Trust Towards Social Media in Emergencies: A Perspective of Professional Emergency Personnel in Europe

  • Hermann SzymczakEmail author
  • Pinar Kuecuekbalaban
  • Daniela Knuth
  • Silke Schmidt
Conference paper
Part of the Communications in Computer and Information Science book series (CCIS, volume 529)


Research shows that people increasingly rely on social media in emergencies and disaster situations. This is not surprising, considering how social media and mobile social computing have become an integral part of daily life for many people. As a consequence, authorities responding to emergencies are often expected to make use of social media as well, e.g. to monitor information related to specific incidents on social networks such as Twitter, or respond to requests made on such platforms. To gain a better understanding of this subject, we investigated the perspective of professional emergency personnel. Specifically, we asked members of various PSOs (Public Safety Organizations) from eight different countries in Europe (n = 1.223) about their view on using social media in the context of emergencies. The present study was conducted as part of the SOTERIA project (Online and Mobile Communications for Emergencies), a multinational project funded by the European Commission. Our data shows that members of PSOs themselves would trust information provided on social media significantly less than they expect the public to trust information on social media during emergencies. With the exception of Poland, this difference occurred across countries and might indicate an inclination of PSOs to consider social media as a tool to broadcast information rather than to collect information. As a practical consequence, a possible bidirectional exchange of information between the public and PSOs might be hampered by this attitude and valuable information not taken into consideration.


Crisis communication Europe Disaster Emergency Social media Trust 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hermann Szymczak
    • 1
    Email author
  • Pinar Kuecuekbalaban
    • 1
  • Daniela Knuth
    • 1
  • Silke Schmidt
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für Psychologie Lehrstuhl Gesundheit und PräventionErnst-Moritz-Arndt Universität GreifswaldGreifswaldGermany

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