Managing uncertainty: Using social media for risk assessment during a public health crisis

Xinning Gui, Yubo Kou, Kathleen Pine, Yunan Chen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Recently, diseases like H1N1 influenza, Ebola, and Zika virus have created severe crises, requiring public resources and personal behavior adaptation. Crisis Informatics literature examines interconnections of people, organizations, and IT during crisis events. However, how people use technology to cope with disease crises (outbreaks, epidemics, and pandemics) remains understudied. We investigate how individuals used social media in response to the outbreak of Zika, focusing on travel-related decisions. We found that extreme uncertainty and ambiguity characterized the Zika virus crisis. To cope, people turned to social media for information gathering and social learning geared towards personal risk assessment and modifying decisions when dealing with partial and conflicting information about Zika. In particular, individuals sought local information and used socially informed logical reasoning to deduce the risk at a specific locale. We conclude with implications for designing information systems to support individual risk assessment and decision-making when faced with uncertainty and ambiguity during public health crises.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCHI 2017 - Proceedings of the 2017 ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Subtitle of host publicationExplore, Innovate, Inspire
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Pages4520-4533
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781450346559
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2 2017
Event2017 ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2017 - Denver, United States
Duration: May 6 2017May 11 2017

Publication series

NameConference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings
Volume2017-May

Conference

Conference2017 ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2017
CountryUnited States
CityDenver
Period5/6/175/11/17

Keywords

  • Crisis informatics
  • Decision-making
  • Information seeking
  • Online forums
  • Public health
  • Risk assessment
  • Social media
  • Uncertainty reduction
  • Zika virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design

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  • Cite this

    Gui, X., Kou, Y., Pine, K., & Chen, Y. (2017). Managing uncertainty: Using social media for risk assessment during a public health crisis. In CHI 2017 - Proceedings of the 2017 ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems: Explore, Innovate, Inspire (pp. 4520-4533). (Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings; Vol. 2017-May). Association for Computing Machinery. https://doi.org/10.1145/3025453.3025891