Social Media and Natural Disasters

So this week i’m blogging a about Social Media being used during Natural Disasters plus the impact that it has on the community and whether or not I would use Social Media if I was in a natural disaster.

Sightseers on the Inner City Bypass inspecting the flooded Coronation Drive, Brisbane City/Milton – Flooding in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia January 11 2011 110112
Taken on January 12, 2011
(License – CC Attribution 4.0 International –

I found a really cool article ( on the abc website which shows a breakdown of a project of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation which involved the Queensland Police Service media account ‘@QPSMedia’ coverage on Twitter of the 2011 Queensland Floods and the impact it had for users all around queensland.

More than 35,000 tweets using the #qldfloods tag were used between January 10 and January 16 2011. The most influential of these were the Queensland Police Services “#QPSmedia” which was always one step ahead of other media outlets giving what was said as ‘timely and relevant information to the public’. There is a whole report done on just the relevance of QPSmedia on twitter during the 2011 Queensland Floods –

INFOGRAPHIC: Dissemination of tweets for leading #qldfloods accounts between January 10 and January 16, 2011.(By Axel Bruns,

I thought this info graphic was awesome and shows just how many tweets/retweets/replies the #QPSMedia were getting, along with the other popular media twitter accounts like #abcnews, @612Brisbane, @Couriermail and @sunriseon7

This article has done a great job in breaking down the ‘not so easy’ to read project report itself and has given graphs and smaller snippets of the relevant information. It just goes to show the rising impact of social media in more serious areas like emergencies and natural disasters where you can receive important information and advice on the fly.. not having to be in front of the TV waiting for a journalist to feed you the repeated updates of the situation all day while they wait for some more information.

Would I be using social media if I were caught in a Natural Disaster? In this day and age it would be ridiculous not to. There are so many benefits compared to older methods of reading the newspaper and watching the news on TV such as having automatic updates wherever you are, keeping in touch with family and giving updates on your situation while phone lines are down and just generally having a more reliable way to find fast, informative news which could save a lot of stress and hassle.

A bit surreal seeing the dinosaurs in the flood like this
Taken on January 13, 2011
(License – CC Attribution 2.0 Generic –



9 thoughts on “Social Media and Natural Disasters

  1. Hi Peter, it’s amazing how many people used Twitter during the Queensland Floods! I have to agree with you, you’d be silly not to use social media during a natural disaster with all the rolling updates that are constantly being released (as long as your internet connection isn’t down). Was where you live affected by the Queensland Floods and did you use social media during them as an aid? Also, which specific social media platform/s do you think you’d primarily use in a disaster?


    1. Hey Anthony,
      I wasn’t directly affected myself but some of the surround suburbs closer to the city got absolutely smashed. Beaudesert Rd around acacia ridge I used to take to work everyday and just after my exit looked like nothing I had ever seen before. Really looked like something out of a movie.
      I was using social media at the time but not primarily to keep updated on the flooding seeing as though I wasn’t directly affected. If I was though my main platform would probably still be facebook due to not really being familiar with twitter and alot of the others.

      What about yourself? Were you affected?


  2. Hi Peter,
    I wasn’t directly affected as the area I live in is luckily quite elevated. I used Facebook to follow the floods even though I wasn’t directly affected, and I would use it as my primary form of social media if I was in a disaster. From the infographic you posted, I’m surprised how many tweets abc news got when compared to The Courier-Mail and QPS Media. Were these what you expected?


    1. That’s good to hear man.
      I wasn’t really sure what I expected. I mean ABC news is incredibly popular especially with the older generation and probably the better news station with less adverts etc.
      But twitter seems more of a younger generation thing so it’s a little bit weird hehe.


  3. This is a good blog post Peter, that pulls in some interesting facts, particularly on Twitter. I like the inclusion of Professor Bruns work and also that you’ve use attribution for Rae and Jack’s images.

    You’ve clearly thought about the topic, so to build on this, it would be useful to do some wider reading that looks past the QLD flood info and perhaps critique those to see if there are correlations with the QPS work.

    Also, some extra feedback would be just to work on improving your hyperlinks. Sometimes it can look messy with the whole URL on show, maybe link to it by highlighting a word instead.

    Well done though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks very much Tracy. Just new to the whole blogging scene so it’s nice to have some good feedback.
      I had cut down the URLs after I finished (the were about 4 sentences long hahah) but the highlighting word is a good idea.

      Thanks for the feedback 🙂


  4. This post brought back a lot of nostalgia for me, as I remember using social media in the floods of 2011. I remember having a really bad feeling about how it affected the region and it’s people, and staying connected through social media really helped me through this.
    I watched the news reports on TV non-stop, but connecting through Twitter put everything on a deep personal level.
    I think the floods were a turning point in how we connected, as I remember having the greatest sense of community on Twitter than I ever have in the six years of using it. I was added to several different lists of SEQ residents, which allowed me to connect with many others experiencing the same thing.
    Probably the most memorable thing about Twitter in the floods for me was when Justin Bieber tweeted about it (he was cool back then).

    Social media definatley helped me grapple with the whole situation, and I think in the future it will play a huge role in natural disasters.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Peter,

    I’m surprised that there was over 35,000 tweets related to the QLD Floods, I’m not a Twitter user but have an account.

    I follow a Facebook page called Higgins Storm Chasing which is now my main platform for getting weather updates and pay no attention to the TV.

    Here’s the link if you want to check it out:

    Liked by 1 person

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