Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Communication

First Advisor

Dr. Tulika Varma

Second Advisor

Dr. Nataliya Roman

Third Advisor

Dr. Margaret Stewart

Department Chair

Dr. John Parmelee

College Dean

Dr. George Rainbolt


Twitter has become a popular channel for local governments to explore crisis communication during a hurricane. Local governments use Twitter to distribute crisis messages to the public, and are able to amplify or attenuate risk perception. Many factors attribute to individuals’ risk perception including control, choice, children, novelty, and risk-benefit tradeoff. The Social Amplification of Risk Framework (SARF) provides a guide to understanding the intensifying or weakening of these risk messages. While these crisis messages are directed to the general public, the local governments may be neglecting information for the vulnerable populations. In order to prepare for a hurricane, vulnerable populations need updates from local governments and emergency agencies before, during, and after the hurricane. Relationships among stages of a hurricane, tweet categories, and risk perception were explored. A sample of 1,043 tweets from six Twitter accounts of local governments in Florida were analyzed to provide insight into what type of messages local governments tweet and what risk perceptions local governments emphasize during the stages of Hurricane Irma. Using a Cross-tabulation analysis, researchers analyzed significant differences for stages of a hurricane, tweet categories, and risk perceptions. Findings for this study indicate that results were significant through each stage of the hurricane.

Keywords: Twitter, Hurricane, Risk Factors, SARF, Vulnerable Populations

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