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Study Highlights How Twitter Is ­sed to Share Information After a Disaster

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Japan after tsunami

Philippe Lopez / AFP / Getty Images

North Carolina State University (NCSU) researchers recently studied how people used Twitter following the 2011 nuclear disaster in Japan.

"I wanted to see whether social media is changing the way we communicate, or if we are communicating the same way using different tools," says NCSU professor Andrew Binder.

The study indicated that social media tools have not changed what people communicate as much as they have changed how quickly information can be disseminated. The researchers searched for tweets originating in the United States that specifically referred to Fukushima Daiichi, the name of the nuclear plant. The researchers found that 15 percent of the tweets in the sample contained some mention of risk-related terms, while 17.7 percent of the tweets included language that helped place the events in context. More than 50 percent of the tweets included hyperlinks to external Web sites, of which 62.7 percent linked to traditional news sources.  

The researchers also found that people were more likely to include links to Web sites as time went on. Although people are clearly looking to news sources for insight and analysis into disasters, Binder notes that news organizations have increasingly fewer reporters capable of providing it.

From NCSU News 
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