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Mar 06,2009
Don't fight Twitter, disaster expert says
by UPI

BOULDER, Colo. - Disaster management specialists at the University of Colorado say managers should embrace rather than shun the online Twitter and Facebook sites' capabilities.

Jeannette Sutton, research coordinator at the university's Natural Hazards Center in Boulder, Colo., said she and colleague Leysia Palen have tracked the dissemination of information in several recent emergencies and found civilians using the Internet sites were remarkable accurate.

"One of the biggest concerns shared by those in emergency management is that there's going to be a lot of rumor in the information that's posted through these types of social networks," Sutton said in a release. "Instead, from what we've seen so far, the information is actually self-correcting."

The crises monitored by Sutton and Palen included the outbreak of 20 wildfires in Southern California in the fall of 2007 and the school shooting incident at Virginia Polytechnic Institute in April 2007.

Sutton is to speak at the World Conference on Disaster Management in June in Toronto and said her message will be that social media are here to stay and managers will need to incorporate it into their responses.

© 2009 United Press International. All Rights Reserved.

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