Caroline Orr Bueno, Ph.D Profile picture
Nov 15, 2022 13 tweets 4 min read Read on X
One thing that keeps me up at night right now is the possibility that Twitter’s potential death spiral will coincide with a major regional/national/global crisis. For better or worse, Twitter is a crucial disaster comms tool, and we don’t have a replacement for it. 1/
Twitter has been a vital source of information, networking, guidance, real-time updates, community mutual aid, & more during hurricanes, wildfires, wars, outbreaks, terrorist attacks, mass shootings...etc. It's not something that can be replaced by any existing platforms. 2/
If Twitter suddenly stops working or if huge swaths of the population can't access it during a crisis, the result will almost certainly be preventable suffering & death. Elon Musk needs to stop treating this like a playground, and start protecting it as vital infrastructure. 3/
This isn't just my opinion. There is an entire line of research exploring the use of Twitter for crisis- and disaster communication. For example, here's a great study about the significance of Twitter as a communications tool during Hurricane Harvey. 4/…
As this study notes, Twitter has been identified by some researchers as the "most useful social media tool" for communicating during disasters. Other platforms play a role, but Twitter is the central hub for journalists, govt, citizens, witnesses/survivors, & first responders. 5/ Image
One of the reasons Twitter is such an important comms tool during disasters is that the nature of crises often makes it hard for traditional media to reach the public and the disaster scene. Twitter is often the first and only source of info about unfolding crises. 6/ Image
The design of Twitter is also uniquely conducive for use during crises. Hashtags, for example, become crucial navigational tools to find relevant, up-to-date information and advisories in one central place without having to lose valuable time searching multiple websites. 7/ Image
Effective use of Twitter by government agencies can also engender trust in those agencies during crises, which is critical when you need people to follow evacuation orders or other safety protocols. It helps keep people informed, engaged, and alive. 8/ Image
Twitter can also play a crucial role in the healing process after crises. It gives people a space to build community resilience, which also helps us better prepare for future disasters. These are, quite literally, life-saving implications. 9/ Image
My colleagues and I recently wrote/presented a paper on this very topic (I will share it when it's published), and one of our findings was that Twitter actually shapes the course and outcome of crises. It can literally mean the difference between life and death. 10/ Image
I truly hope Elon Musk will see that he holds people's lives in his hands, and will start acting accordingly — because if he continues playing around with Twitter like a new toy, he *will* be responsible for deaths at some point. 11/
In the meantime, I hope you'll use this opportunity to plan ahead. Make an emergency communication plan for your family, your workplace, your neighbors, etc. Don't wait until it's too late.

Here's how to get started on that:…
Here’s more reading on the use of Twitter for disaster communication if you’re interested:

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More from @RVAwonk

May 28
The CEO of Google — one of the five largest tech companies in existence today — says he has no solution for the company’s AI providing wildly inaccurate information to users.

Astonishing that they didn’t address this before releasing the AI publicly.…
We need a totally different incentive structure here. We shouldn’t celebrate companies for releasing things faster, or making the most dramatic changes to the status quo. Instead, we should reward those who prioritize rigorous safety testing & built-in guardrails.
Ultimately, the usefulness of AI tools is inherently contingent on being able to use them without producing new and bigger problems along the way. Companies that are rushing just to put things in users’ hands are not producing useful tech; they’re just trying to stay relevant.
Read 4 tweets
Apr 27
This — IU changing a rule overnight & pretending they didn’t – is such a prescient example of why my biggest fear regarding AI is that it will be used to rewrite history and produce the “evidence trail” needed to make the fake version of history look more real than the real one.
I’ve spent a lot of time looking into this potentiality and it’s actually a lot easier to accomplish than it seems, which should absolutely terrify you. Of course, it would start small, with marginal changes to obscure events & records — so by the time you notice, it’s too late.
I mean, it *is* happening. It’s not just a hypothetical anymore. The only question is whether the AI-facilitated historical revisionism we’ve seen thus far is simply the product of errors or glitches, or if it’s intentional — ie, the AI doing exactly what it was designed to do.
Read 6 tweets
Apr 25
Look, I obviously know the circumstances are different, but there is a ton of overlap between what is going on now and the various iterations of the so-called campus free speech wars that we’ve seen for years. We know how this will unfold. Here’s a sneak preview.
The stories you hear in the media will be the most extreme examples that can be found, and nearly all of them will be fundamentally misrepresented based on the biases of the person telling the story. This will fuel a cycle of escalation that few people on either side want.
Just like we’ve seen the emergence of so-called war/conflict influencers, we are once again seeing the rise of the campus speech war influencer, and once you let those people take over, they’ll steer things towards the extremes because that’s where the attention they seek is.
Read 13 tweets
Apr 16
FYI: There has been a huge surge in the number of deepfake videos — some of which are quite well done — on this platform in the past few days. These are probably among the best quality deepfakes I’ve seen at this scale; most viewers are unable to tell that the videos are fake.
Some of the deepfakes are related to the Iran-Israel conflict; others focus on domestic issues in the U.S., including multiple that sought to sow hostility between Black Americans and immigrants. These videos were explicitly pro-Trump, but it’s not clear who produced them.
Other deepfake videos I’ve seen on X in the past few days have focused on violence & civil war, with some claiming to show acts of heinous violence on camera. Still others have shown “footage” of people yelling slurs in someone’s face, or crowds of unruly people breaking things.
Read 9 tweets
Mar 28
Since I’ve had some people ask about it, I’ll give you my very brief thoughts on the absolutely ridiculous conspiracy theories about the Key Bridge collapse.

Firstly, many of the people spreading the most outlandish claims don’t actually believe in them. It’s engagement bait.
Secondly, we are at a point where any event that attracts a certain amount of attention is going to become a magnet for conspiracy theories & other forms of participatory disinformation. Most of the narratives are laundered — ie, they’re not new or unique to this event.
Third, it’s important to understand that most people who actively participate in constructing alternate realities have integrated this into their core identity. The various competing narratives out there end up becoming a way to signal affiliation with certain groups & stances.
Read 7 tweets
Mar 15
I told you this was going to happen and now here we are.

In science, when we don’t understand something, we don’t assume that means it doesn’t exist. In medicine, if they don’t understand something, it doesn’t exist to them. It’s wild.…
I didn’t think they’d start denying the existence of long COVID quite so soon, but it was clear it was coming.
Saying long COVID doesn’t exist not only fails to help those suffering from it, but it actually makes their health outcomes worse due to distress, isolation, and betrayal trauma from being dismissed by those who were supposed to help them.
Read 9 tweets

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