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Average Twitter Users Become More Active During Natural Disasters

This suggests people are communicating about their preparation or recovery in real-time and sharing resources that could assist those seeking help

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This April 26, 2017, photo shows the Twitter app icon on a mobile phone in Philadelphia. According to a study released Jan. 24, 2019, a tiny fraction of Twitter users spread the vast majority of fake news in 2016, with conservatives and older people sharing misinformation more. VOA

Despite the importance placed on celebrity social media influencers with millions of followers, during natural disasters average Twitter users become more active disseminators of information, finds a study.

The study, led by University of Vermont researchers, is the first to look at social media patterns across different disaster types (hurricanes, floods and tornadoes).

According to the study, Twitter users with small local networks (100-200 followers) increase their activity more than those with larger networks in these situations.

Instead of relying on high-profile social media influencers to help spread important information, the study suggests efforts should be concentrated on targeting average users with meaningful networks, with compelling, accurate messages that average people will feel compelled to share in the “social wild online.”

“We found ‘average Twitter users’ tweeted more frequently about disasters, and focused on communicating key information,” said Benjamin Emery from the varsity’s Complex Systems Center and Computational Story Lab.

“While these users have fewer followers than the so-called influencers, their followers tend to have a higher proportion of friends and family, close networks that are more likely to seek and exchange useful information in emergency situations,” he added.

Twitter
Average Twitter users more active during disasters: Study. Pixabay

The results, published in the journal PLOS ONE, have important implications for organisations responsible for communicating vital information around emergencies, particularly as natural hazards increase in incidence and cost, a trend expected to continue with climate change.

“In planning for natural hazards and disasters, thinking about when and what to tweet really does matter,” said Meredith Niles from the varsity.

Researchers found key differences in tweet timing and volume, depending on type of disaster. For hurricanes, people tweeted more frequently about emergency topics before the event, while for tornadoes and floods, which occur with less warning, Twitter was used for real-time or recovery information.

Also Read- Facebook Negotiating Multi-billion Dollar Fine With US Agency: Report

They also found terms like “groceries,” “supermarket,” and “prepare” were most frequently used before hurricanes whereas terms like “shelter,” “emergency,” “wind” or “food security” were used during and after tornadoes.

This suggests people are communicating about their preparation or recovery in real-time and sharing resources that could assist those seeking help. (IANS)

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Twitter Testing ‘Subscribe to Conversation’ Feature For its Users

Although, there was no indication yet if or when Twitter will deploy the change platform-wide

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Twitter, India, Smartphone
Twitter on a smartphone device. Pixabay

Micro-blogging site Twitter is testing a “subscibe to conversation” feature that would notify users everytime a tweet is added to the conversation in order to keep up with it, without actually becoming a part of the thread.

The prototype feature, that comes as a bell icon above conversation threads was spotted by reverse engineer Jane Manchun in the app’s Android version.

“This is part of our work to make Twitter more conversational,” the micro-blogging site said on Friday.

Twitter CEO
This April 26, 2017, photo shows the Twitter app icon on a mobile phone in Philadelphia. VOA

Lately, Twitter has been exploring new ways of protecting its users from hate, abusive content and fake news.

“Because of this ‘subscribe to conversation’ feature, users would not need to like or comment in a thread to receive updates and this could add a bit of anonymity,” Engadget reported.

Also Read- Concerns Rise Over China’s Stand at United Nations Human Rights Council

Although, there was no indication yet if or when Twitter will deploy the change platform-wide

Earlier this week, the company launched its beta app “Twttr” that comes with special colour specifications for conversations. It has also been experimenting with profile preview feature and an “original tweeter” labels. (IANS)