Previous research on the use of social media during crises has examined Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI), which describes the intentional communication of information to organisations or individuals in an attempt to influence their convergence behaviour in order to impact the event outcome. These convergence behaviours can be categorised into archetypes which have two different role types: (1) active crisis involvement (returnees; helpers, exploiters; detectives or manipulators); or (2) passive crisis bystander (anxious; curious; fans (or supporters); and mourners). Until now, little has been known about the use of social media crisis communications to influence convergence behaviour especially that of passive crisis bystanders. To investigate this phenomenon we conducted an analysis of the 2016 Munich Shooting social media crisis communications (Twitter) by collecting 672,871 tweets in connection to the shooting. We examined 1,651 tweets containing GPS data and firstly classified their authors into convergence behaviour archetypes identified from the literature, as well as those that additionally emerged from our data analysis. We then analysed the tweet location, frequency and the subject of each tweet i.e. the tweet content, by convergence behaviour archetype. Our findings revealed that across all convergence behaviour archetypes both active and passive (apart from one i.e. the impassive) tweet volumes increased the further individuals were from the event. The close proximity of the impassive to the event, however, saw an increase in their tweet volume with a focus on personal, location and other news content. This implies that this bystander archetype may have the ability to impact and influence an event, as a passive and rational “eye-witness” by gathering and sharing information close to where the event is occurring.
Stieglitz, Stefan; Potthoff, Tobias; and Braun, Lea-Marie, "Personality Traits to Allocate Information Systems Student Teams" (2017). ACIS 2017 Proceedings. 76.