Project

RISE_SMA: Social Media Analytics for Society and Crisis Communication

Goal: RISE_SMA forms an interdisciplinary, international network combining excellent scholars and practitioners to enable vigorous knowledge sharing and to develop solutions for contemporary challenges for Social Media Analytics (SMA).

Advanced theoretical approaches and methods of analyzing social media data are especially relevant for two domains addressed in RISE_SMA: society and crisis communication. Recently, social media communication gained immense impact on society and decision-making at all levels. It offers the potential for new forms of public discourses but also challenges societal cohesion phenomena like fake news and vicious social bots.

During uncertain events such as natural disasters or human-made crises, social media communication plays an increasingly important role for citizens and emergency service agencies. RISE_SMA attempts to uncover communication patterns and suggest best practices to seek and share information in precarious situations.

Date: 1 January 2019

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Project log

Felix Brünker
added a research item
Widespread mis- and disinformation during the COVID-19 social media “infodemic” challenge the effective response of Emergency Management Agencies (EMAs). Conversational Agents (CAs) have the potential to amplify and distribute trustworthy information from EMAs to the general public in times of uncertainty. However, the structure and responsibilities of such EMAs are different in comparison to traditional commercial organizations. Consequently, Information Systems (IS) design approaches for CAs are not directly transferable to this different type of organization. Based on semi-structured interviews with practitioners from EMAs in Germany and Australia, twelve meta-requirements and five design principles for CAs for EMAs were developed. In contrast to the traditional view of CA design, social cues should be minimized. The study provides a basis to design robust CAs for EMAs.
Milad Mirbabaie
added a research item
Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) are experts responsible for managing cybersecurity incidents. To identify cyber threats, they consider a wide range of sources from official vulnerability databases to public sources such as Twitter, which has an active cybersecurity community. Due to the high number of topic-related tweets per day, credibility assessment represents an immense effort in the daily work of CERTs. Although approaches for automated credibility assessment have already been developed in previous research, these mainly take peripheral cues into account, although users with domain expertise and a high level of personal involvement also assess content-related cues. We therefore conducted interviews with CERT members to re-evaluate known indicators for automated credibility assessment from an expert perspective. In doing so, we contribute valuable insights to the development of automated approaches for credibility assessment targeting users with high domain knowledge and personal involvement.
Milad Mirbabaie
added a research item
Social media have become a valuable source for extracting data about societal crises and an important outlet to disseminate official information. Government agencies are increasingly turning to social media to use it as a mouthpiece in times of crisis. Gaining intelligence through social media analytics, however, remains a challenge for government agencies, e.g. due to a lack of training and instruments. To mitigate this shortcoming, government agencies need tools that support them in analysing social media data for the public good. This paper presents a design science research approach that guides the development of a social media analytics dashboard for a regional government agency. Preliminary results from a workshop and the resulting design of a first prototype are reported. A user-friendly and responsive design that is secure, flexible, and quick in use could identified as requirements, as well as information display of regional discussion statistics, sentiment, and emerging topics.
Milad Mirbabaie
added a research item
Contemporary corporate crises demand conscientious communication efforts to save stakeholders and firms from preventable loss. Social media, in this regard, have proven to create a climate of high emotional volatility. Consequentially, firms travail to leverage social media in a way that reliably moderates negative emotions towards the firm and its actions. Underpinned by the assumptions of Situational Crisis Communication Theory (SCCT), this study presents a social media analytics approach that is applied to a case study of the US-based airplane manufacturer Boeing, which suffers from a corporate crisis due to repeated fatal crashes of their 737 MAX 8 model. Based on a dataset of 417,583 Twitter postings, preliminary results suggest that prevalent negative emotions amend in distinct crisis phases that differ in responsibility attribution. This study informs theory and practice by exposing emotional climates on social media that might serve as a decision aid for corporate crisis response.
Felix Brünker
added a research item
In recent years, the development of information communication technologies (ICTs), such as social media, has changed the way people communicate and engage in social movements. While conventional movements were fought in the streets, social media have enabled movements to take place online. In this paper, we aim to investigate the role of social media during social movements that evolve online under the scope of the theory of connective action. Specifically, we examined Twitter communication during the #metoo debate. To this end, we examined two datasets (2017 and 2019) and combined methods from social media analytics to identify influential users, with a manual content analysis to classify influential users into roles. Likewise, a manual classification found distinct communication categories. Through regression analysis, we were able to gage the individual contribution of these categories and roles based on the retweet probability. This study introduces for the first time the terms of connective action starters and maintainers.
Anna-Katharina Jung
added a research item
As false information may spread rapidly on social media, a profound understanding of how it can be debunked is required. This study offers empirical insights into the development of rumors after they are debunked, the various user groups who are involved in the process, and their network structures. As crisis situations are highly sensitive to the spread of rumors, Twitter posts from during the 2017 G20 summit are examined. Tweets regarding five rumors that were debunked during this event were manually coded into the following categories: rumor, debunking message, uncertainty about rumor, uncertainty about debunking message, and others. Our findings show that rumors which are debunked early and vehemently by official sources are the most likely to be stopped. When individuals participate in the process, they typically do so by sharing uncommented media content, as opposed to contributing user-generated content. Depending on the conditions in which a rumor arises, different network structures can be found. Since some rumors are easier for individuals to verify than others, our results have implications for the priorities of journalists and official sources.
Milad Mirbabaie
added a research item
Purpose - The purpose of this study is to investigate communication on Twitter during two unpredicted crises (the Manchester bombings and the Munich shooting) and one natural disaster (Hurricane Harvey). The study contributes to understanding the dynamics of convergence behaviour archetypes during crises. Design/methodology/approach - The authors collected Twitter data and analysed approximately 7.5 million relevant cases. The communication was examined using social network analysis techniques and manual content analysis to identify convergence behaviour archetypes (CBAs). The dynamics and development of CBAs over time in crisis communication were also investigated. Findings - The results revealed the dynamics of influential CBAs emerging in specific stages of a crisis situation. The authors derived a conceptual visualisation of convergence behaviour in social media crisis communication and introduced the terms hidden and visible network-layer to further understanding of the complexity of crisis communication. Research limitations/implications - The results emphasise the importance of well-prepared emergency management agencies and support the following recommendations: (1) continuous and (2) transparent communication during the crisis event as well as (3) informing the public about central information distributors from the start of the crisis are vital. Originality/value - The study uncovered the dynamics of crisis-affected behaviour on social media during three cases. It provides a novel perspective that broadens our understanding of complex crisis communication on social media and contributes to existing knowledge of the complexity of crisis communication as well as convergence behaviour.
Milad Mirbabaie
added a research item
Social media has become an important channel of communication in emergency and disaster management. Emergency Management Agencies can distribute helpful and important information to the general public and also gather information to enrich their management efforts. This, however, remains challenging since several communication-related barriers occur. This study investigates how the concept of Nudging, a form of behaviour adjustment, can be applied to address these barriers. A Systematic Literature Review and qualitative social media data analysis methods were applied to explore the potential of digital nudges on social media. Twelve forms of digital nudges could be identified in the data that influenced the visibility of the messages they occurred in. The results suggest that Digital Nudging on Social Media is a promising approach to use in emergency and disaster communication.
Felix Brünker
added 2 research items
Organizations introduce virtual assistants (VAs) to support employees with work-related tasks. VAs can increase the success of teamwork and thus become an integral part of the daily work life. However, the effect of VAs on virtual teams remains unclear. While social identity theory describes the identification of employees with team members and the continued existence of a group identity, the concept of the extended self refers to the incorporation of possessions into one's sense of self. This raises the question of which approach applies to VAs as teammates. The article extends the IS literature by examining the impact of VAs on individuals and teams and updates the knowledge on social identity and the extended self by deploying VAs in a collaborative setting. Using a laboratory experiment with N = 50, two groups were compared in solving a task, where one group was assisted by a VA, while the other was supported by a person. Results highlight that employees who identify VAs as part of their extended self are more likely to identify with team members and vice versa. The two aspects are thus combined into the proposed construct of virtually extended identification explaining the relationships of collaboration with VAs. This study contributes to the understanding on the influence of the extended self and social identity on collaboration with VAs. Practitioners are able to assess how VAs improve collaboration and teamwork in mixed teams in organizations.
The omnipresent COVID-19 pandemic gave rise to a parallel spreading of misinformation, also referred to as an ‘Infodemic’. Consequently, social media have become targets for the application of social bots, that is, algorithms that mimic human behaviour. Their ability to exert influence on social media can be exploited by amplifying misinformation, rumours, or conspiracy theories which might be harmful to society and the mastery of the pandemic. By applying social bot detection and content analysis techniques, this study aims to determine the extent to which social bots interfere with COVID-19 discussions on Twitter. A total of 78 presumptive bots were detected within a sample of 542,345 users. The analysis revealed that bot-like users who disseminate misinformation, at the same time, intersperse news from renowned sources. The findings of this research provide implications for improved bot detection and managing potential threats through social bots during ongoing and future crises.
Tim A. Majchrzak
added a research item
Although a lot of correct and useful information is shared through channels such as Twitter, it has also become a home ground for misinformation on COVID-19. To tackle this still ongoing infodemic, scientific oversight as well as a better understanding by practitioners in crisis management is needed. We have conducted an exploratory study into the propagation, authors and content of misinformation on Twitter around the topic of COVID-19 in order to gain early insights into the COVID-19 infodemic. Our results enable us to not only give first indications but also to suggest gaps in the current scientific coverage of the topic. Moreover, we propose actions for authorities to counter misinformation and hints for social media users on how to help stop the spread of misinformation.
Anna-Katharina Jung
added a project reference
Anna-Katharina Jung
added a project goal
RISE_SMA forms an interdisciplinary, international network combining excellent scholars and practitioners to enable vigorous knowledge sharing and to develop solutions for contemporary challenges for Social Media Analytics (SMA).
Advanced theoretical approaches and methods of analyzing social media data are especially relevant for two domains addressed in RISE_SMA: society and crisis communication. Recently, social media communication gained immense impact on society and decision-making at all levels. It offers the potential for new forms of public discourses but also challenges societal cohesion phenomena like fake news and vicious social bots.
During uncertain events such as natural disasters or human-made crises, social media communication plays an increasingly important role for citizens and emergency service agencies. RISE_SMA attempts to uncover communication patterns and suggest best practices to seek and share information in precarious situations.