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 Infrared satellite of a hurricane
A physician, nurse, or other health care worker checking information on a mobile tablet using a stylus

Welcome to Social Media Analysis During Disasters


Social media is everywhere, with trending stories at our constant disposal. Disasters and emergencies often accelerate the speed and amplify the quantity of information on social media, limiting time to make sense of it all.

For emergency managers, information specialists, and other decision makers responding to large-scale disasters, it is challenging to filter through the volume of noise on social media to identify valid, actionable information.

The purpose of this course is to help you develop and implement a plan that will help you effectively monitor and analyze disaster information on social media. This self-paced course fulfills one of the requirements of the MLA Disaster Information Specialization, Advanced Level. The course provides three Medical Library Association (MLA) continuing education (CE) credits.

Note: After reviewing the information on this page, please be sure to complete the pre-course evaluation on the next page before continuing with the course.

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Continuing Education Credits

If you are taking this course for Medical Library Association credits, please register and complete the class through our free online registration system.

Topics Covered in this Course

This course is divided into the following sections:

  1. Introduction: Setting the Stage
  2. Policy
  3. Planning
  4. When Disaster Strikes: Preparing Your Team
  5. During the Disaster: Processes and Procedures
  6. Conclusion

Use the Next and Back buttons at the bottom of the page to move through the course. It should take you about one hour to complete the course. Each section contains a single page of content and activities that help reinforce topics covered. For more information on additional ways to navigate the course, see the "Getting Around" section below.

Each section includes key points, which are the most critical take-home messages of the material.

Throughout this course, the National Library of Medicine® will be referred to using the acronym NLM and the Disaster Information Management Research Center will be called NLM Disaster Health.


Disclaimer: NLM does not endorse any particular developer or product. Social media platforms mentioned by name in this course are the trademarks of their respective owners.

Learning Objectives

After completing this course, you will be able to:

  • Develop a plan for monitoring social media for disaster information
  • Monitor social media for actionable information during disasters
  • Choose reliable social media sources and use a checklist to verify content
  • Practice techniques to lessen uncertainty and information overload

With further training and practice, you will be ready to:

  • Work as a social media monitor in a fast-paced situation, providing critical assessments and suggestions for decision-makers
  • Build your own credibility and trust within the public safety community as a valuable go-to resource for social media analysis in disasters
  • Be a valuable information resource during disasters


This training:

  • Focuses on social media usage, particularly Facebook® and Twitter®, during advance-notice, large-scale disasters
  • Teaches principles and processes that can be broadly applied to social media analysis
  • Does not focus on any one particular Emergency Support Function (ESF)

It assumes that you:

  • Are at least an intermediate computer user, with a basic understanding of social media communications
  • Will be working as part of a digital team responding to a disaster, although the concepts covered in this course still apply to individuals

Requisite Knowledge and Skills

Prior to taking this course, you should have a basic understanding of emergency management terminology, concepts, and technological awareness. While it is not required, we recommend completing the IS-42: Social Media in Emergency Management training course offered by FEMA Emergency Management Institute (EMI) before taking this course.

Recommended Skills

It is important to note there are no formal defined skill sets required for social media monitoring, research, and analysis during emergencies. The list that follows is based upon best practices and lessons learned.

For the best success in this course and as an effective disaster social media monitor, excellent oral and written communication skills are essential. In addition, you should be able to:

  • Work effectively in a fast-paced environment, at times under high pressure
  • Collect, process, analyze, and respond to data in real time
  • Effectively balance judgment and analysis
  • Maintain a degree of skepticism about social media content
  • Be decisive when needed
  • Explain complex issues to audiences of varying literacy and education levels
  • Stay disciplined and on task; not lose focus and concentration amid social media noise

Using this Course

Getting Around

There are a variety of ways you can navigate this training. You can:

  • Click the Back and Next buttons at the bottom of each page to move through the material
  • Use the Menu button in the upper right corner of each page to access the main sections or contact support
  • Press the LEFT and RIGHT arrow keys on your keyboard to move through the material
  • Use a combination of the above methods to explore the course contents


At the top of each page, links will indicate where the current page falls within the overall course. You can also follow these links to return to this homepage or to the section that contains the page.


Throughout the course, you will encounter links. Any link denoted with an External Link icon (Exit disclaimer) points to a resource outside of this course and will typically open in a new tab or window. All other links are to other areas within the course.

Additionally, clicking on an image will open a larger view of the image in a pop-up box within the page.

Getting Help

If you need assistance using this course or have questions or comments about any of the content presented here, please select the About / Getting Help option from the upper right menu.