Social media is an emerging communication channel in natural and climate change-induced disaster situations. Yet, its role is context dependent and may not be as effective in all settings. This article examines its use in China. In cities and in the domain of environmental risk, social media is playing an emerging role in Chinese citizens' efforts to voice concerns and express critique to state actions. At the same time, our case-study shows how its use remains limited in cases of natural and climate change related disasters. We have examined this in the case of Typhoon Meranti that hit the city of Xiamen, China, in September 2016. Based on an online survey with 630 respondents and an analysis of social media blogs, this case-study shows how Xiamen citizens value official information (transmitted via warning texts or mainstream media) over individual perspectives shared through social media. In the Typhoon Meranti case, much of the information shared was official warnings and information taken from government websites or media reports. Comparing our results with other relevant literature on China suggests that, in cases of disaster emergencies, particularly in natural disasters—where immediate and accurate information is needed— citizens value China's top-down information structure over informal information from social media.
- Social media