During disasters, people visit virtual communities to find verifiable, accurate, and reliable (VAR) information. However, the presence of unverifiable, inaccurate, and unreliable (UIU) information can encourage people to withdraw from the community. One way of combating UIU information is cultivating a sense of community (SoC). However, little is known of how SoC can be quickly constructed in virtual communities during a disaster. We conducted a qualitative case study of a virtual community and its response to a disaster. Our findings indicate that socialization and formal control can work together to foster a SoC during disasters. Prior IS research argues that isolating users and sanctioning uncivil behavior can erode an individual’s SoC in virtual communities. However, we discovered that when the formal controllers (i.e., moderators) impose emergent group norms, sanction uncivil behavior and isolate problematic users, they improve SoC at the group level, especially when isolated users enact uncivil behavior.
Hasan, Mahmudul; Chua, Cecil; and Myers, Michael David, "Together We Survive: Constructing a Sense of Community in Virtual Communities during Times of Disaster" (2022). PACIS 2022 Proceedings. 141.
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