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Responding to natural disasters with social media: a case study of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan

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The purpose of this paper is to investigate the use of social media during and after natural disasters, in order to determine if their use is advantageous for disaster response. A case study of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan is conducted, drawing on primary and secondary sources for content and document analysis. A social network approach, the In/Out/Seeker/Provider framework developed by Varda et al. (2009), is employed to analyze how different types of social networks used social media to seek and provide information and assistance. The results of the case study indicate that social media were used differently by four types of social networks, and while there were disadvantages to the use of social media, overall their use was advantageous for disaster response.
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