Faculty Research at Morehead State University


Computers in Human Behavior

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Online networks using Web 2.0 technologies have proven useful for communication among all parties involved in managing crises. These networks rapidly disseminate information allowing for coordination among organizations responding to the needs of those whose safety and well being are threatened by the crisis and its aftermath. This study provides a network analysis of official Twitter accounts activated during the Charleston, West Virginia, water contamination crisis in 2014. The city’s water supply was rendered unfit for drinking or bathing after 7500 gallons of a toxic chemical leaked into the Elk River. The network created by the 41 Twitter accounts associated with the West Virginia water contamination lacked density, contained several isolates, exchanged information quickly (geodesic distance diameter),and contained both national and local accounts. The lack of density indicates limited exchange of information, particularly between national and federal accounts. The rapid dissemination of the information that was shared and the fact that some accounts did bridge the local and national gap, however,show the positive potential for such networks in responding to crises.