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Soc Sci Res. 2017 Mar;63:356-370. doi: 10.1016/j.ssresearch.2016.09.015. Epub 2016 Sep 28.

Social media processes in disasters: Implications of emergent technology use.

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Department of Journalism and Sociology, University of Texas at Austin, United States. Electronic address:
Department of Intermedia Arts, University of Maine at Orono, United States. Electronic address:


This article seeks to extend social science scholarship on social media technology use during disruptive events. Though social media's role in times of crisis has been previously studied, much of this work tends to focus on first-responders and relief organizations. However, social media use during disasters tends to be decentralized and this organizational structure can promote different types of messages to top-down information systems. Using 142,786 geo-tagged tweets collected before and after Hurricane Sandy's US landfall as a case study, this article seeks to explore shifts in social media behavior during disruptive events and highlights that though Sandy disrupted routine life within Twitter, users responded to the disaster by employing humor, sharing photos, and checking into locations. We conclude that social media use during disruptive events is complex and understanding these nuanced behaviors is important across the social sciences.


Communication; Disruptive events; Hashtags; Humor; Routines; Social media

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