Public Relations Tactics

Study: During Emergencies, Social Media Can Spread Rumors, Anxiety

November 1, 2017


Survivors of three recent calamities — the Northern California wildfires, the mass shooting in Las Vegas and Hurricane Maria — used social media to connect with loved ones, find news and seek help.

But as a new study suggests, people who look for crisis updates from unofficial channels like random social media accounts often receive conflicting and false information and experience psychological distress.

The study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America surveyed students a week after officials locked down their campus following a shooting. Nearly all respondents said they turned to officials like school authorities and police for information, but some students reported seeking news from social media, family and friends.

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