PUBLIC RESPONSE
TO ALERTS AND WARNINGS
USING SOCIAL MEDIA

REPORT OF A WORKSHOP ON CURRENT
KNOWLEDGE AND RESEARCH GAPS

Committee on Public Response to Alerts and Warnings Using Social Media:
Current Knowledge and Research Gaps

Computer Science and Telecommunications Board

Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS

Washington, D.C.

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PUBLIC RESPONSE TO ALERTS AND WARNINGS USING SOCIAL MEDIA REPORT OF A WORKSHOP ON CURRENT KNOWLEDGE AND RESEARCH GAPS Committee on Public Response to Alerts and Warnings Using Social Media: Current Knowledge and Research Gaps Computer Science and Telecommunications Board Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences

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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS  500 Fifth Street, NW  Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Gov- erning Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engi- neering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. Support for this project was provided by the Department of Homeland Security with assistance from the National Science Foundation under award number IIS- 1118399. Any opinions, findings, or conclusions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations that provided support for the project. International Standard Book Number-13:  978-0-309-29033-3 International Standard Book Number-10:  0-309-29033-3 This report is available from: Computer Science and Telecommunications Board National Research Council 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001 Additional copies of this report are available from: The National Academies Press 500 Fifth Street, NW, Keck 360 Washington, DC 20001 (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 http://www.nap.edu Copyright 2013 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America

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The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal govern- ment on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its mem- bers, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advis- ing the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in pro- viding services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org

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COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC RESPONSE TO ALERTS AND WARNINGS USING SOCIAL MEDIA: CURRENT KNOWLEDGE AND RESEARCH GAPS ROBERT E. KRAUT, Carnegie Mellon University, Chair ALESSANDRO ACQUISTI, Carnegie Mellon University JON M. KLEINBERG, Cornell University LESLIE LUKE, San Diego County Office of Emergency Services RICHARD G. MUTH, State of Maryland Emergency Management Agency LEYSIA PALEN, University of Colorado, Boulder TIMOTHY L. SELLNOW, University of Kentucky MICHELE WOOD, California State University, Fullerton Staff JON EISENBERG, Director, Computer Science and Telecommunications Board VIRGINIA BACON TALATI, Associate Program Officer ERIC WHITAKER, Senior Program Assistant iv

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COMPUTER SCIENCE AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS BOARD ROBERT F. SPROULL, Sun Labs, Chair PRITHVIRAJ BANERJEE, Hewlett Packard Company STEVEN M. BELLOVIN, Columbia University JACK L. GOLDSMITH III, Harvard Law School SEYMOUR E. GOODMAN, Georgia Institute of Technology JON M. KLEINBERG, Cornell University ROBERT E. KRAUT, Carnegie Mellon University SUSAN LANDAU, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study PETER LEE, Microsoft Corporation DAVID E. LIDDLE, US Venture Partners DAVID E. SHAW, D.E. Shaw Research ALFRED Z. SPECTOR, Google, Inc. JOHN STANKOVIC, University of Virginia JOHN A. SWAINSON, Dell, Inc. PETER SZOLOVITS, Massachusetts Institute of Technology PETER J. WEINBERGER, Google, Inc. ERNEST J. WILSON, University of Southern California KATHERINE YELICK, University of California, Berkeley Staff JON EISENBERG, Director VIRGINIA BACON TALATI, Associate Program Officer SHENAE BRADLEY, Senior Program Assistant RENEE HAWKINS, Financial and Administrative Manager HERBERT S. LIN, Chief Scientist LYNETTE I. MILLETT, Associate Director ERIC WHITAKER, Senior Program Assistant ENITA A. WILLIAMS, Associate Program Officer For more information on CSTB, see its website at http://www.cstb.org, write to CSTB, National Research Council, 500 Fifth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001, call (202) 334-2605, or e‑mail the CSTB at cstb@nas.edu. v

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Preface F ollowing an earlier workshop organized by a separate National Research Council (NRC) committee that explored the public response to alerts and warnings delivered to mobile devices,1 the Depart- ment of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) Science and Technology Director- ate asked the NRC’s Computer Science and Telecommunications Board to convene a workshop on the role of social media in disaster response. Held February 28 and 29, 2012, the workshop was organized by the Com- mittee on Public Response to Alerts and Warnings Using Social Media: Current Knowledge and Research Gaps. The resulting report points to potential topics for future research and possible areas for future research investment by DHS and others and describes challenges facing disaster managers seeking to incorporate social media into regular practice. One of the first workshops convened to look systematically at the use of social media for alerts and warnings, the event brought together social science researchers, technologists, emergency management professionals, and other experts on how the public and emergency managers use social media in disasters. The workshop explored (1) what is known about how the public responds to alerts and warnings; (2) the implications of what is known about such public responses for the use of social media to provide alerts and warnings to the public; and (3) approaches to enhancing the 1  National Research Council. Public Response to Alerts and Warnings on Mobile Devices: Sum- mary of a Workshop on Current Knowledge and Research Gaps. The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2011. vii

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viii PREFACE BOX P.1 Statement of Task An ad hoc committee will oversee development and facilitation of a work- shop that convenes experts from across the nation in the fields of alerts and warnings, social media, and privacy.  The workshop will examine the use of and public response to social media for alerts, identifying past and current research and future research needs.  It will also explore potential privacy implications of issuing alerts and warnings via social media. The workshop will use a mix of in- dividual presentations, panels, breakout discussions, and question-and-answer sessions to develop an understanding of the relevant research communities, research already completed, ongoing research, and future research needs. Key stakeholders will be identified and invited to participate.  An unedited (ver- batim) transcript of the event will be prepared.  A report summarizing what transpired at the workshop will be prepared. situational awareness of emergency managers. It also considered how officials monitor social media and the privacy considerations that result. The complete statement of task for the workshop is provided in Box P.1. This report summarizes presentations made by invited speakers, other remarks by workshop participants, and discussion during parallel breakout sessions. In keeping with the workshop’s purpose of exploring an emerging topic, this summary does not contain findings or recom- mendations. Nor, in keeping with NRC guidelines for workshop reports, does it necessarily reflect consensus views of the workshop participants or the responsible committee. In addition, these summaries should not be taken as remarks made solely by the scheduled session speakers, because the discussions included remarks offered by others in attendance, and the summaries of the workshop sessions provided in the chapters of this report are a digest both of the presentations and of the subsequent discussion. Chapter 1 provides a brief overview of background information on the alerting process and public response as well as current understanding of social media use. Chapters 2 through 5 provide integrated summaries of the session presentations and the discussion that followed, organized by topic. Chapter 6 summarizes the research questions identified during the breakout sessions and subsequent plenary discussion. Appendix A

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PREFACE ix presents the workshop agenda, and speaker biosketches are provided in Appendix B. Appendix C provides biosketches of the committee and the staff. Robert E. Kraut, Chair C  ommittee on Public Response to Alerts and Warnings Using Social Media: Current Knowledge and Research Gaps

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Acknowledgment of Reviewers T his report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and respon- siveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Robert Dudgeon, San Francisco Department of Emergency Management Prabhakar Raghavan, Google Ellis Stanley, Independent Consultant, Roswell, Georgia Clarence L. Wardell III, CNA Safety Duncan Watts, Microsoft Research Although the reviewers listed above have provided many construc- tive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the material presented, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Ruzena Bajcsy, Univer- sity of California, Berkeley. Appointed by the National Research Council, xi

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xii ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF REVIEWERS she was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring com- mittee and the institution.

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Contents 1  FUNDAMENTALS OF ALERTS, WARNINGS, AND SOCIAL MEDIA 1 Current Knowledge About Public Response to Alerts and Warnings, 2 Social Media Use by the Public During Disasters, 4 Barriers to Incorporating Social Media into Emergency Management, 5 Technology Development for the Use of Social Media in Emergency Management, 6 Technologies for Developing Situational Awareness from Social Media, 9 Observations of Workshop Participants, 10 2 CURRENT USES OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN EMERGENCIES 12 Use of Social Media by the Los Angeles Fire Department, 12 Use of Social Media by WCNC, Charlotte, to Provide Weather Information, 14 Using Social Media for Earthquake Detection and Alerting, 16 Using Social Media to Assess Communication Needs and Disseminate Information During a Health Emergency, 17 Observations of Workshop Participants, 20 xiii

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xiv CONTENTS 3 DYNAMICS OF SOCIAL MEDIA 22 Studying Twitter Use to Understand How People Communicate, 22 Problem Solving with Social Media, 25 Standby Task Force: Volunteer Networks During Disasters, 28 Observations of Workshop Participants, 32 4 CREDIBILITY, AUTHENTICITY, AND REPUTATION 34 Reputation Systems, 34 Encouraging Self-Correction, 36 Computational Claim Verification, 36 Applying the “Citizen Science” Model to Disaster Management, 37 Observations of Workshop Participants, 40 5  PRIVACY AND LEGAL CHALLENGES WITH THE USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA 41 Legal and Policy Perspectives on Privacy and on Government Monitoring of Social Media, 41 Privacy Protection in the Context of Programs for Citizen Reporting of Threats, 44 Legal Perspective on First-Responder Responsibilities, 45 Observations of Workshop Participants, 47 6 RESEARCH GAPS AND IMPLEMENTATION CHALLENGES 49 Message Content and Dissemination, 49 Trust and Credibility, 51 Privacy, 52 Volunteers, 52 Technology Diffusion, 53 Emergency Management Practice, 54 APPENDIXES A Workshop Agenda 57 B Biosketches of Workshop Speakers 63 C Biosketches of Committee and Staff Members 73