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Journal Article


Bhuvana N, Arul Aram I. Int. J. Disaster Risk Reduct. 2019; 39: e101135.


(Copyright © 2019, Elsevier Publishing)






The digital world we live in has transformed the way we communicate, network, seek help, access information, gain knowledge, and has shaped every aspect of our lives. A wide choice of communication platforms facilitates our indulgence from texting to posting on social media, which allows us to transcend geographic limitations. Natural disasters necessitate immediate communication to know the well-being of the people concerned and to seek rescue and relief measures. One such 'black swan' event was the Chennai floods of 2015, in south India, where social media such as Facebook and WhatsApp became disaster management tools for social activism. This research aims to analyse how Facebook and WhatsApp were used in the management of the Chennai floods of 2015, particularly by residents of Kotturpuram and Mudichur, two of the worst-affected areas in the city. The study used a quantitative approach, carrying out a survey with judgement sampling (n = 400). The satisfaction level of using Facebook and WhatsApp among the residents of Kotturpuram and Mudichur were analyzed. The factors of sense of empowerment - information, real-time operational information, emotional appeal, situational updates, and trustworthiness - were further analyzed. The implication of social media over traditional media and how those affected gained influence and power to set reverse agenda through social media during the Chennai floods of 2015 was also investigated. The use of both Facebook and WhatsApp increased and even surpassed the use of more conventional tools of communication such as radio and television during the Chennai floods. Apart from being mere tools for communication, social media facilitated disaster management during the floods. Our analysis reveals that the information sourced from Facebook and WhatsApp chats can be an eye-opener to specific areas of resource needs and gaps in resource distribution which will help in decision-making in real disasters.

Language: en


Chennai floods; Disaster management; Empowerment; Facebook; Reverse agenda-setting; WhatsApp


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