Magazine article Risk Management

Managing Social Media during a Crisis

Magazine article Risk Management

Managing Social Media during a Crisis

Article excerpt

In today's world of citizen journalists and social media, we can learn of an event in seconds or even watch as it happens live. This shift has had an effect on how we communicate in times of crisis or disaster. As a result, accounting for social media has quickly become one of the most challenging aspects of developing an organization's crisis plan.

One of the reasons for this difficulty is the speed at which information spreads on social media. On the surface, it may seem beneficial to get information out as fast as possible during a crisis. The problem is that there is no opportunity to vet or contextualize first-hand accounts and there is little fact-checking or editing to ensure the validity of the message. Since there is no way to stop information from spreading, it makes the situation even more difficult for first responders.

Social media is also characterized by a lack of differentiation and attribution. Tweets by major news outlets and citizen journalists look the same as they come up in your Twitter feed. In an everyday situation, this would not be a problem, but in an emergency, information received is often accepted as fact regardless of source credibility. The ease with which people can tweet, retweet, share or like contributes to the cycle of word-of-mouth speculation and can create confusion.

In addition, social media messages tend to be perpetuated by practices such as sharing or retweeting. Because there is no editorial oversight, there is no way to ensure that the information is timely. This means that a message can be recirculated as new for hours. …

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