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Sunday, February 24, 2019
False Missile Alert: CDC Analyses 38 Minutes of Tweets
By News Release @ 2:26 AM :: 6386 Views :: Hawaii History, Military

Public Health Emergency Risk Communication and Social Media Reactions to an Errant Warning of a Ballistic Missile Threat — Hawaii, January 2018

from Centers for Disease Control  February 22, 2019

… Using Sysomos† (version 1.47; Meltwater), an analysis of social media data from Twitter was performed by conducting a Boolean search to identify relevant tweets. The search used the terms “missile and Hawaii,” “ballistic,” “shelter,” “drill,” “threat,” “alert,” or “alarm” to identify tweets posted on the morning of January 13, 2018. Twitter data were used for this analysis because they are available in the public domain and easily accessible. Retweets (reposting the same tweet) and quote tweets (reposting the tweet with a comment at the top of the tweet) were excluded to limit the analysis to initial tweets.

All tweets were stratified into one of two periods. The early period consisted of tweets sent during the initial 38 minutes (8:07–8:45 a.m.), and the late period consisted of those sent in the 38 minutes after the false alarm retraction message was issued via EAS and WEA at 8:45 a.m. Tweets were coded using grounded theory, which is a systematic approach to analyze qualitative data and develop theories from those data (4). Themes were identified until theoretical saturation was reached. Atlas.ti§ software (version 8; Atlas.ti Scientific Software Development) was used for all exploratory qualitative analysis.

A total of 127,125 tweets were identified; after excluding 69,151 (54%) retweets and 43,444 (34%) quote tweets, 14,530 (11%) initial tweets remained for analysis. Among these, 5,880 (40%) were sent during the early period, and 8,650 (60%) were sent during the late period.

Four themes emerged from the Twitter data during the early period: 1) information processing; 2) information sharing; 3) authentication; and 4) emotional reaction. Information processing was defined as any indication of initial mental processing of the alert. Many information processing tweets dealt with coming to terms with the imminent missile threat (Table). Information sharing consisted of any attempt to disseminate the alert, often directed at other persons’ Twitter handles (user names). One Twitter user shared a tweet with the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the White House National Security Council. Authentication involved any attempt to validate the alert. Finally, emotional reaction was the expression of shock, fear, panic, or terror.

During the late period, the information sharing and emotional reaction themes persisted, and three new themes emerged: 1) insufficient knowledge to act; 2) denunciation; and 3) mistrust of authority (Table). These new themes are fundamentally different from those expressed during the early period and reflect reactions and responses to misinformation. Insufficient knowledge to act involved reacting to the lack of a response plan, particularly not knowing how to properly take shelter. Denunciation consisted of blaming the emergency warning and response, particularly criticizing the time it took to correct the alert. Finally, mistrust of authority involved doubting the emergency alert system or governmental response….

read … Full Report

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