Preprint Review Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Twitter Functions in COVID-19 Pandemic and Other Natural Disasters: A Literature Review

Version 1 : Received: 8 August 2020 / Approved: 10 August 2020 / Online: 10 August 2020 (04:45:36 CEST)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Seddighi, H.; Salmani, I.; Seddighi, S. Saving Lives and Changing Minds with Twitter in Disasters and Pandemics: A Literature Review. Journal. Media. 2020, 1, 59-77. Seddighi, H.; Salmani, I.; Seddighi, S. Saving Lives and Changing Minds with Twitter in Disasters and Pandemics: A Literature Review. Journal. Media. 2020, 1, 59-77.


Background: Twitter is a major tool for communication in emergencies such as natural disasters. This online social network allows the user to produce content, and it is not designed exclusively for news releases, as opposed to other service providers. Aim: The aim of this study is to investigate Twitter uses in natural disasters and pandemics. Methods: The included studies reported the role of Twitter in natural disasters. The studies that report in settings other than the natural disasters (such as man-made disasters) and other social media were excluded. Electronic databases for a comprehensive literature search including MEDLINE, Web of Science, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Cochrane Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) and EMBASE were used to identify the records that match the mentioned inclusion criteria published till May 2020. The study characteristics were extracted from the qualified studies including year of publication, findings, and geographical location of the study conduct. A narrative synthesis for this literature review was used. Results: The search identified 822 articles of which 780 articles were removed, 256 were not available, 311 papers were not relevant, 16 were duplicated articles, and 197 were non-related to the emergencies. 45 articles met the selection criteria and were included in the review. eleven themes were found in the narrative synthesis including early warning, disseminating information and misinformation, advocacy, personal gains, assessment, various roles of organizations, public mood, geographical analysis, charity, using influencers, and trust. Conclusions: It is recommended that influential individuals be identified in each country and community before disasters occur so that the necessary information can be disseminated in response to disasters. Preventing the spread of misinformation is one of the most important issues in times of disaster, especially pandemics. Disseminating accurate, transparent, and prompt information from relief organizations and governments can help. Also, analyzing Twitter data can be a good source for understanding the mental state of the community, estimating the number of injured people, estimating the points affected by natural disasters, and modeling the prevalence of epidemics. Therefore, various groups such as politicians, the government, non-governmental organizations, aid workers, and the health system can use this information to plan and implement interventions.


Twitter; Disaster; Risk Reduction; Preparedness; Response; Recovery


Social Sciences, Media studies

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