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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Social Media During Slow Crises

  • Author(s): Sharma, Vishal
  • Advisor(s): Nardi, Bonnie
  • et al.
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Social Media During Slow Crises


Vishal Sharma

Master of Science in Informatics

University of California, Irvine, 2019

Professor Bonnie Nardi, Chair

Slow crises are dispersed over time and space. Their effects accumulate gradually but end catastrophically. The topic of slow crises has been scarcely touched by the crisis informatics community and human-computer interaction community more broadly. In this thesis, I present a qualitative study of social media use by different stakeholders—celebrities, the public, and the government—to raise awareness and foster participation during the slow crisis of water pollution and scarcity in Bangalore. I conducted 30 interviews with residents and non-residents of Bangalore to examine how they verify the credibility of information shared on social media during a crisis. Social media facilitate communication between the public and the government and facilitate the participation of non-residents in civic activities, otherwise difficult offline. I investigate how social media provide opportunities to raise awareness and foster participation in slow crises that are prevalent worldwide such as climate change and extinction of species. Although this study focuses on the slow crises, its findings can also inform research in crisis informatics and other domains of HCI such as digital democracy and social computing.

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This item is under embargo until July 12, 2021.