In the minutes following the attack, users posted an average of 73.4 tweets per secondby Thomas Spielhofer, / June 2, 2017 / Leave a comment
The use of social media such as Twitter and Facebook soared last week after the Manchester terrorist attack.
A recent survey by the Tavistock Institute found that 85 per cent of adult UK citizens regularly use some form of social media, but that that usage increases exponentially during emergencies. Around a third of those polled said that they had used social media to find or share information during an emergency.
As with social media in general, this proportion is much higher among younger people – with almost 60 per cent of 18-24s having done so. A ‘digital divide’ appears between those aged 18-44 and those aged 45 or above – with a significant fall in social media use in emergencies among the latter. This may be because smartphone use is much higher among young.
Within 10 hours of the Paris terrorist attack in 2015, around 6.7 million posts with the hashtag #prayforparis appeared on Twitter.
Similarly, analysis by the Tavistock Institute showed that 8809 messages were tweeted within 2 minutes of the Manchester attacks; an average of 73.4 tweets per second.
Rooms for the stranded
Some present at the arena were using social media to inform friends and family that they were safe, while others were sharing photos of still-missing relatives and friends.
Later on, Manchester residents offered rooms to stay for those stranded with the hashtag #roomsformanchester.
Other popular hashtags, each with thousands of messages and retweets, included #manchesterexplosion, #ManchesterArena, #Manchesterattacks, #Manchesterbombing and #PrayforManchester.
Creating fake news
Social media, however, was also misused to spread false rumours, including fake photos of young people supposedly missing.
In one example, a photo of a girl who lives in Melbourne, Australia, was posted on Twitter as a missing person, while in another instance, someone posted a photo of a child clothing model claiming it was the user’s brother who was missing.
This is one reason why many, particularly older citizens, are reluctant to use social media in general and, in particular during emergencies: 64% of those surveyed by the Tavistock Institute said that they did not trust social media because of false information.
The emergency services, such as the police, fire or…