answer and 2 responses 1

Conspiracy theories, Fake News, Social Media and Disaster

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Next, read these two articles,

  • Psychological Outcomes in Reaction to Media Exposure to Disasters and Large-Scale Violence: A Meta-Analysis
  • Social Media in Disaster Risk Reduction and Crisis Management

Social Media and the Internet undoubtedly give us helpful tools for crisis response and management. That said, there are negatives that can sometimes outweigh the positives.

1. Discuss the ways that the changing media landscape is affecting the psychosocial consequences of disaster, for better or for worse.

2. Reflect on the ways that media (social or otherwise) positively and negatively impact crisis management. How can we quell the rumor mill? How do we combat further traumatization?

Please comment on 2 posts


Information dissemination is at the core of the responsibilities of media outlets across the globe and means of connections between the various organizations and the audience. During emergencies, people tune to their televisions or listen to their radios to acquire information about the natural or human-made event, their number of casualties, and the efforts of the emergency management team to help victims, survivors, and the relatives. However, the emergence and adoption of social media platforms as reliable sources of information by different people in different parts of the world has introduced a new level of competition in the media landscape, as well as increased the potential for distribution of misinformation about the events. In spite of the potential of natural and human-made disasters to traumatize victims, survivors, and their families, the need for relevance and increased viewers base has caused media outlets to contribute to the negative psychosocial outcomes of the crises that are shown on television, social media channels, and other forms of new channels. Therefore, the knowledge and understanding derived from the examination of the changing media landscape would help emergency managers to develop strategies for effective crisis management.

Hopwood and Schutte (2017) wrote that the change media landscape is giving people more access to graphic images of disasters and violent incidents that have tremendous potential to trigger negative psychological outcomes in the viewers. When the opportunity provided by the media outlets to distribute this information to their audience across is put into the context of the traumatic impacts of the disaster on victims, then it is easier to infer that consequences of the exposure to some of the horrific scenes of incidents such as mass shootings and earthquakes is based on the mental health of the viewers. On the other hands, the images that are distributed across the various media channels can be considered useful for helping residents of disaster-prone areas to increase their level of preparedness and resilience to the damages of natural and human-made emergency situations. Overall, it is imperative for media outlets to balance the type of information about disasters that are distributed across their various platforms because the measure is required to reduce the adverse implications of the broadcast on the views regardless of their intentions

Meanwhile, social media platforms remain the emerging media platform that has both negative and positive outcomes on crisis management and the development of psychological trauma that affects viewers. First, the different outlets that are used for the acquisition and distribution of information on disasters are useful for providing regular updates on efforts to mitigate the impacts of the incident and restore the areas to its pre-disaster situations. In the opinion of Alexander (2014), some of the positive impacts of this new form of media include crowd-sourcing and high-level collaborations among stakeholders in emergency management. Also, the information shared online through social networks are useful for conducting research and monitoring the activities and progress of the emergency management team.

In conclusion, the ease of use and freedom of distribution are some of the negative implications of the contribution of this media type to crisis management. Therefore, the potential to not just misinform but worsen the traumatic effect of the incidents are negative outcomes that should be addressed by media stakeholders. One of the strategies that emergency managers can utilize to curb the extent of the rumors is the prompt dissemination of information through official channels and the verification of information by the audience before different to their next. In a nutshell, the negative effects of social media have immense potential to cause adverse psychological outcomes in the audience.


Alexander, D. E. (2014). Social media in disaster risk reduction and crisis management. Science and Engineering Ethics, 20(3), 717-733.

Hopwood, T. L., & Schutte, N. S. (2017). Psychological outcomes in reaction to media exposure to disasters and large-scale violence: A meta-analysis. Psychology of Violence, 7(2), 316.



The various media outlets play important roles during a crisis as the information they provide are used by the audience to understand the complexity of the problem, impact on the victims and survivors, and efforts that are required to mitigate these impacts. Also, the need to be relevant and attract business through the large viewership of their programs has contributed to the potential for the several of media outlets to misrepresent the facts and figures surrounding the disaster. When this need is placed in the context of the freedom provided social media platforms, as well as its impacts on the competition, the probability of sensational reporting of a disaster becomes higher. While viewers across the world have the liberty to verify the content of their news, it is imperative to understand the how the changing media landscape is contributing to the increased levels of the negative psychosocial outcomes of disasters. Also, this discussion is important for determining how the news items produced by these media outlets affect the effectiveness of crisis management.

Hopwood and Schutte (2017) wrote that the change media landscape is responsible for the negative psychosocial outcomes of victims and viewers of new productions on disasters or large-scale violence because of the existence of the moderator variables that influence these results in the environment. First, when media reports are focused on human-made disasters that are designed to mass casualties such as terrorist attacks and mass shooting, the outcome is that viewers experience severe negative psychological outcomes. Similarly, the format of the news items, especially the audiovisual one, is considered through evidence from a series of studies to play a significant role in the development of psychological issues such as the anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorders. Therefore, the changing media landscape is influencing the experience of viewers in ways that are not intended by their producers.

Furthermore, consideration for the adverse impacts of the different types of media outlets should not be restricted to the negative psychosocial outcomes that they generate but their role in the efficiency of the activities that implemented during emergency management. In this context, the role of social media platforms and channels would be most appropriate because of their wide reach and global acceptance as the first source of new information on any event. According to Alexander (2014), the various forms of social media outlets are utilized by individuals and institutions during crisis management in seven ways including the monitoring of situations, extending the emergency response and management to all areas, and crowd-sourcing and collaborative development among others.”

Although the other methods are important, the use of social media outlets as a tool for social cohesion and listening to public debate would be valuable in the development of strategies for controlling fake news items that exacerbate the negative psychosocial outcomes from their consumption. Aside from playing the role of balancing the negative and positive implications of their application for crisis management activities, the utilization methods can contribute to the attainment of this goal through the exposure of corrupt and unethical journalists and reporters. Similarly, the freedom that the tools give to members of the public is a further advantage that would make it impossible for emergency managers to misinform or sensationalize the disaster in ways that would increase the level of negative of psychosocial impacts that they produce.


Alexander, D. E. (2014). Social media in disaster risk reduction and crisis management. Science and Engineering Ethics, 20(3), 717-733.

Hopwood, T. L., & Schutte, N. S. (2017). Psychological outcomes in reaction to media exposure to disasters and large-scale violence: A meta-analysis. Psychology of Violence, 7(2), 316.