Analyzing SC social media after Hurricane Isaias

Artificial intelligence-powered software at the University of South Carolina's Social Media Insights Lab analyzed how people have been responding to both.

Columbia, S.C. (WOLO) — Following Hurricane Isaias, South Carolinians are now dealing with both hurricane season and the COVID-19 pandemic. Artificial intelligence-powered software at the University of South Carolina’s Social Media Insights Lab analyzed how people have been responding to both.

It’s not something many people are used to; hurricane season during a pandemic.

“One thing that we did see, were okay well now in Florida, testing centers are going to be closed. How is that going to affect things?” said Kait Parker, Manager and Analyst with the Social Media Insights Lab at UofSC College of Information & Communications.

According to the lab’s findings, people did have some concerns over a potential mandatory evacuation.

“How will COVID-19 affect those evacuation orders that we’ve seen pretty much consistently in the last three to four years in hurricane season?” said Parker.

People in the storm’s path also shared pictures, both before and after it hit.

“Sometimes people might use the hashtag of the storm, but one thing that I would say we found out pretty quickly, there’s a lot of variations of spellings of Isaias. So we wanted to be sure we were capturing all of those,” said Parker.

People on social media also stuck to facts and news sources, rather than opinions.

“Over 70% were neutral, they didn’t really express an opinion. And that is also a good thing, because that means people are sharing news sources. They’re not sharing opinions related to the storm, and really in a situation like this we want people to be sharing the news,” said Parker.

Parker added that people also reacted emotionally on social media with fear and then joy.

“The first was fear, people being afraid of certain elements of the storm. And that can apply to a lot of different things. But then when it was not truly the storm we that we originally thought it was maybe going to be, well a lot of people sharing joy. Sharing messages of positivity like ‘calm after the storm, all safe here after Isaias,’” said Parker.

Being conscious of what’s happening on social media can help you stay informed next time there’s a hurricane.

“We want people to be plugged in and be aware of what’s happening in a potentially hazardous situation,” said Parker.

Categories: Local News, News, State