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A Review of Social Media Use During Disaster Response and Recovery Phases



Camila E. Young, Erica D. Kuligowski, Aashna Pradhan


Under the National Construction Safety Team Act, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) conducted an investigation of the May 22, 2011 tornado in Joplin, Missouri. The final report concluded with a list of sixteen recommendations, including but not limited to recommendations for action in improved and standardized emergency communications. Specifically, NIST recommended “the development of national codes and standards and uniform guidance for clear, consistent, recognizable, and accurate emergency communications, encompassing alerts and warnings, to enable safe, effective, and timely responses.” (Kuligowski et al. 2014, p.367) This is the third study in the NIST effort to develop evidence-based guidance on the creation and provision of public alerts. First, an overview of current popular social media platforms and the capabilities that they feature, as well as their potential application for emergency management is presented. Then, the findings of research related to social media use for disaster response are outlined in three themes. These themes are about the use of these tools for formal emergency management, innovative social media applications for disaster response, and how the general public uses these platforms, respectively. In turn, the findings of the research about social media use for disaster recovery are presented through three themes as well. These themes focus on social media during recovery for mental health, recovery assessment, and relationship development, respectively. The research findings are followed by the limitations and practical considerations for emergency managers. This report ends with the future research section.
Technical Note (NIST TN) - 2086
Report Number


disaster communication, social media, strategic communication, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, emergency management, disaster response, disaster recovery


Young, C. , Kuligowski, E. and Pradhan, A. (2020), A Review of Social Media Use During Disaster Response and Recovery Phases, Technical Note (NIST TN), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed June 21, 2024)


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Created January 31, 2020