Building Social Resilience and Inclusion in Disasters: A Survey of Vulnerable Persons' Social Media Use
Social media (SM) is increasingly used to reach out to populations for preparedness and response to disasters. Given the disproportionate impacts of disasters on vulnerable populations (e.g., older persons, persons socially/geographically isolated, persons living with disabilities, persons of low socio-economic means) in this study we focus specifically on the attitudes, needs and future plans of vulnerable persons towards accessing and sharing information via SM during extreme weather events. Advancing understanding in this area is important as there is growing evidence that people who may be described as more vulnerable may have different communication needs and less access to disaster related information and technologies. We present the results of a survey of 215 vulnerable persons in Victoria, Australia. Rather than consider vulnerable persons as a homogenous group, we examine how persons with different vulnerabilities perceive SM for accessing and sharing information in the context of disasters and report findings which challenge prevalent assumptions about vulnerable persons and SM. Overall we find that vulnerable persons are not passive recipients of support during disasters but have self-awareness, a strong desire to receive information and the capacity to usefully contribute to the provision of reliable information via SM. With a view to improving outcomes for vulnerable persons in disasters we offer an agenda for future research.
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