Situated in New Zealand, Whakaari, also known as White Island, erupted at 2:11pm on December 9, 2019. The fatal eruption received international online attention through Twitter, the most popular social media platform for seeking news. In this paper we investigate how different actors (Twitter users) contributed to the sharing of information about this unfolding extreme event. Our analysis is based on a sample of the most popular tweets posted in the 72 hours following the eruption. We categorize tweets according to different actor groups, each of which play a significant role in shaping online discourse. We analyse content and frequency of messages to identify the messaging behaviour of each group, and their relative impact (i.e., influence). Specifically, our findings indicate that while Media Agencies tweeted and retweeted more messages, Private Individuals (in particular, a first-hand observer) and Emergency Response Agencies achieved the most significant reach and impact per tweet posted. We discuss these initial findings through the lens of goal framing theory and outline the ongoing direction of this research.
Kotlarsky, Julia; Kishore, Shohil; Branicki, Layla; and Sullivan-Taylor, Bridgette, "How the World Understood the White Island Eruption: The Tales that Different Social Media Actors Tell Us" (2022). ECIS 2022 Research-in-Progress Papers. 17.
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