Harnessing the Crowdsourcing Power of Social Media for Disaster Relief

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This 2011 article focuses on crowdsourcing funding through social media in the event of disaster relief. Social media is increasingly playing a critical role in natural disasters as an information propagator that can be leveraged for disaster relief. The article examines the use of Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, Skype, blogs, and YouTube in the aftermath of both the catastrophic Haiti earthquake on 12 January 2010, and the Japanese Tsunami of 2011, when people published numerous texts, photos and videos about their personal experiences during the earthquake. In just 48 hours following the Haiti earthquake, the Red Cross received US$8 million in donations directly from texts, which exemplifies one of the benefits of the powerful propagation capability of social media.

This article will be of use to PVE researchers and practitioners interested in the use of both crowd-sourced information and crowd-sourced funding through social media. ISIS and other extremist organizations are increasingly utilizing social media in this way, and the article offers a glimpse into two of the early examples of how this process can occur.  

Huiji Gao, Geoffrey Barbier, Rebecca Goolsby, and Daniel Zeng

January 2011