Understanding eyewitness reports on Twitter during disasters

Kiran Zahra, Muhammad Imran, Frank O. Ostermann

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


Social media platforms such as Twitter provide convenient ways to share and consume important information during disasters and emergencies. Information from bystanders and eyewitnesses can be useful for law enforcement agencies and humanitarian organizations to get firsthand and credible information about an ongoing situation to gain situational awareness among other uses. However, identification of eyewitness reports on Twitter is challenging for many reasons. This work investigates the sources of tweets and classifies them into three types (i) direct eyewitnesses, (ii) indirect eyewitness, and (iii) vulnerable accounts. Moreover, we investigate various characteristics associated with each kind of eyewitness account. We observe that words related to perceptual senses (feeling, seeing, hearing) tend to be present in direct eyewitness messages, whereas emotions, thoughts, and prayers are more common in indirect witnesses. We believe these characteristics can help make more e cient computational methods and systems in the future for automatic identification of eyewitness accounts.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationISCRAM 2018 Conference Proceedings
EditorsK. Boersma, B. Tomaszewski
Place of PublicationRochester, NY
PublisherRochester Institute of Technology
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9780692127605
Publication statusPublished - 2018




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