Fighting Disaster Misinformation in Latin America: The #19S Mexican Earthquake Case Study

by   Claudia Flores-Saviaga, et al.

Social media platforms have been extensively used during natural disasters. However, most prior work has lacked focus on studying their usage during disasters in the Global South, where Internet access and social media utilization differs from developing countries. In this paper, we study how social media was used in the aftermath of the 7.1-magnitude earthquake that hit Mexico on September 19 of 2017 (known as the #19S earthquake). We conduct an analysis of how participants utilized social media platforms in the #19S aftermath. Our research extends investigations of crisis informatics by: 1) examining how participants used different social media platforms in the aftermath of a natural disaster in a Global South country; 2) uncovering how individuals developed their own processes to verify news reports using an on-the-ground citizen approach; 3) revealing how people developed their own mechanisms to deal with outdated information. For this, we surveyed 356 people. Additionally, we analyze one month of activity from: Facebook (12,606 posts), Twitter (2,909,109 tweets), Slack (28,782 messages), and GitHub (2,602 commits). This work offers a multi-platform view on user behavior to coordinate relief efforts, reduce the spread of misinformation and deal with obsolete information which seems to have been essential to help in the coordination and efficiency of relief efforts. Finally, based on our findings, we make recommendations for technology design to improve the effectiveness of social media use during crisis response efforts and mitigate the spread of misinformation across social media platforms.


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