BOX 3.1

Examples of Twitter Messages

Following is a sample of Twitter messages sent by public radio and television broadcaster KBPS (@kpbs) during the wildfires in San Diego County, California, in 2007.

  • “To get a list of local assistance centers in Southern California visit”

  • “The CA Department of Insurance is sending fraud investigators to assistance centers and neighborhoods to reduce the chance of scam artists.”

  • “Fire victims can register with FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] online by visiting”

  • “Santa Clarita area update: Buckweed Fire now joins the Magic Fire in being 100 percent contained.”

  • “Resource: people suffering with stress following the wildfires can contact the Orange Co Emergency Op Center hotline at (714) 628-7085.”

  • “The Malibu fire has been fully contained.”

  • “Caltrans [California Department of Transportation] says Route 74 will remain open in both directions tonight.”

SOURCE: KPBS Public Radio @kpbs [Twitter]. Available at

tion information. The Google map integrated several different pieces of information into a single visual cue. The interactive map not only showed the locations of the fires but also where to find shelters, where evacuation centers were, and even where evacuees could take their animals.


A recent study that examined people’s use of social media in responding to the 2009-2010 H1N1 influenza outbreak found that people used social media not only to forward the official messages but also to add pointers to additional information that might or might not have been deemed reliable by health care authorities. During the initial H1N1 outbreak, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made a concerted effort not only to use multiple outlets to maximize the reach of the CDC message but also to try to ensure that CDC messages were the public’s primary source of information on the subject. To that end, CDC also used Facebook, Twitter, and other social media tools to monitor public opinion and to correct rumors. A lesson to be drawn from this experience is that although one cannot determine what information people

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