Do Social Networks Improve or Worsen Disaster Response ?
Updated: Jun 4, 2020
You would think that social networks make disaster response better but according to research, it’s actually the opposite. They make it worse ! This is according to experiments on human behaviour made by Hirokazu Shirado, an assistant professor in Carnegie Mellon University's Human-Computer Interaction Institute.
This was done via a game to the entrants that had an economic stake with an incentive to make the right choice and spread the right information to their network.
Compared to individual players, networked players resisted evacuations and led to the distortion of information.
Social media was not included in the study, however individuals tend to follow like-minded people on social media, it's also easy to connect with others who might fall outside normal social networks, providing a way around some of the barriers that form within networks.
He acknowledged that one of the shortcomings of his experiment is that it was too simple and involved people who were randomly assigned into networks. Future experiments will require players to play several times with the same network of individuals, so they might learn who to trust.
Shirado said he hopes to find ways of improving the performance of social networks.
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