Although we've seen that social media users can easily fall victim to hoax photos and hoax news stories, I'm pretty sure that we can all agree that Twitter is an important firehose for real-time information during times of crisis. Whether is was national organizations posting information about the storm, or users uploading their own photos of the storm's progression and aftermath, Twitter was a helpful resource during Hurricane Sandy, which battered the east coast last month.
Earlier this month, Twitter announced that users had sent over 20 million Hurricane Sandy-related tweets during the six-day period of the storm hitting and its immediate aftermath. They also said that at one point, search queries for Sandy on the site peaked at 20% of total search queries. That means that people were not only tweeting about the disaster, but also turning to Twitter for information.
But just how many of those tweets really qualified as important, information-heavy dispatches? Well, according to a study from Pew, just shy of 60%.
Pew says that from the day the storm made landfall to two days after that, 34% of the Hurricane Sandy tweets consisted of news and information. Another 25% consisted of photos and videos.
The rest of the tweets were made up of jokes, hopes and prayers, political commentary, and "excitement" (Yay! the Hurricane is coming, school's going to be cancelled!). Sure, you can argue that hopes and prayer or even jokes have their benefit. But when you talk about pure information that can be used during the crisis, 59% of the tweets fit the bill.