RESCUE research on social media use in emergencies

WP 2: Case study: The terrorist attacks in Norway 2011

The study investigates how the youth at Utøya during the attacks responded to the terrorist emergency by using social media, and how journalists and information officers evaluated and used social media information in their communication efforts. To what extent did the use of Twitter in the situation enhance the affected youngsters’ situational awareness? How and how well was their messaging evaluated and used by emergency communication authorities and journalists? Although quantitative methods will be applied in undertaking the different tasks, the emphasis is on qualitative methods in order to shed a light on the key questions of how the social media contributed to the understanding of what had happened, and how social media messages affected the youth as well the emergency communication authorities studied. Semi-structured interviews will be conducted with camp participants, examining how they used Twitter during the massacre and the following days. These interviews will be supplemented by discourse and document analysis of sent and received Twitter messages. The tweets will be identified and selected by accessing the recordings of the posted tweets by the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK, 2012).

News stories will also be analysed in order to understand the news flow and interplay between social media and mass media. Journalists who covered the attack during its different phases in different types of media will be identified and interviewed in order to document the extent to which they used social media messages, the reasons for not using them, and not least how those who did use them evaluated the credibility of the social media messages. A similar approach and analysis will be applied to information officers in crisis management in Norway.