Social bots are gaining in popularity and complexity. These technologies could provide assistance and new approaches to handle the numerous tasks on social media that occur in crisis communication. Social bots are applications that automatically produce content and interact with humans on social media, trying to emulate and possibly influence human behaviour. They often have a negative association, but there are many bots which perform benign tasks. Currently, there is no overview of tasks that social bots could support in emergency management. This project is intended to contribute to close this gap by examining possible applications of such bots in crisis communication during natural disasters. The research problem is investigated from two perspectives. First, we explore whether there is already existing bot activities in crisis communication through analysing the Twitter communication of the Eastern Australian bushfires in March 2018. Second, to identify possible bot application in the context of crisis and emergency management experts were interviewed. The results indicate current crisis communication bot activities are mostly limited to automated alerts by emergency management organisations. The expert interviews illustrate high potential and demand for social bots in relevant emergency management organisations. The study shows application fields for social bots in all phases of the emergency management cycle and beyond.
Hofeditz, Lennart; Ehnis, Christian; Bunker, Deborah; Brachten, Florian; and Stieglitz, Stefan, (2019). "MEANINGFUL USE OF SOCIAL BOTS? POSSIBLE APPLICATIONS IN CRISIS COMMUNICATION DURING DISASTERS". In Proceedings of the 27th European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS), Stockholm & Uppsala, Sweden, June 8-14, 2019. ISBN 978-1-7336325-0-8 Research Papers.