Politicization Of Crisis Communication In Social Media. A Case Study Of The 2019 Flood Disaster Management In Poland

Abstract :

The growing pervasiveness of digital media has resulted in the rapid politicization of crisis communication. The aim of this article is to analyse online crisis communication on Facebook and Twitter during the floods that swept through Poland in May 2019 in order to examine the content of flood-related posts and tweets and the extent to which online discussion has been politicized. The study employed a retrospective examination of flood-related Facebook posts (N=10,755) and tweets (N=7,709) published between 1 March to 10 June 2019 that were analysed both quantitatively and qualitatively, including sentiment analysis. The study revealed that both Facebook and Twitter were used extensively in the flood-related online conversations by individual users, organizations, emergency services, and authorities. Emergency services and authorities used social media as a broadcast medium to distribute weather-related alerts and situational updates whereas individual users and organizations posted comments that documented the extent of the flood and damage in the flood zone. The study provides evidence for the politization of crisis communication. Political content was found in the posts and tweets of individual users. Dominant themes were the demand for accountability for poor crisis management, blaming the pre-crisis policies for insufficient budgetary allocation and highlighting politicians’ errors.