AIS Transactions on Human-Computer Interaction


Communication is a purposeful process, especially during disasters, when emergency management officials and citizen journalists attempt to disseminate relevant information to as many affected people as possible. X (previously Twitter), a popular computer-mediated communication (CMC) platform, has become an essential resource for disaster information given its ability to facilitate real-time communication. Past studies on disasters have mainly concentrated on the verbal-linguistic conventions of words and hashtags as the means to convey disaster-related information. Little attention has been given to non-verbal linguistic cues, such as emojis. In this study, we investigate the use of emojis in disaster communication on X by using uncertainty reduction theory as the theoretical framework. We measured information uncertainty in individual tweets and assessed whether information conveyed in external URLs mitigated such uncertainty. We also examined how emojis affect information uncertainty and information dissemination. The statistical results from analyzing tweets related to the 2018 California Camp Fire disaster show that information uncertainty has a negative impact on information dissemination, and the negative impact was amplified when emojis depicted items and objects instead of facial expressions. Conversely, external URLs reduced the negative impact. This study sheds light on the influence of emojis on the dissemination of disaster information on X and provides insights for both academia and emergency management practitioners in using CMC platforms.





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