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Disaster Med Public Health Prep. 2020 Feb;14(1):139-149. doi: 10.1017/dmp.2020.3.

Social Media Use in Emergency Response to Natural Disasters: A Systematic Review With a Public Health Perspective.

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Department of Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Environmental Health Sciences, Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, Georgia.
Department of Communication Arts, College of Arts and Humanities, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, Georgia.
Department of Population Health Sciences, School of Public Health, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia.


Social media research during natural disasters has been presented as a tool to guide response and relief efforts in the disciplines of geography and computer sciences. This systematic review highlights the public health implications of social media use in the response phase of the emergency, assessing (1) how social media can improve the dissemination of emergency warning and response information during and after a natural disaster, and (2) how social media can help identify physical, medical, functional, and emotional needs after a natural disaster. We surveyed the literature using 3 databases and included 44 research articles. We found that analyses of social media data were performed using a wide range of spatiotemporal scales. Social media platforms were identified as broadcasting tools presenting an opportunity for public health agencies to share emergency warnings. Social media was used as a tool to identify areas in need of relief operations or medical assistance by using self-reported location, with map development as a common method to visualize data. In retrospective analyses, social media analysis showed promise as an opportunity to reduce the time of response and to identify the individuals' location. Further research for misinformation and rumor control using social media is needed.


disaster; emergency; response; social media


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