Social media and disaster communication: A case study of Cyclone Winston

  • Glen Finau The University of the South Pacific
  • John Cox La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia
  • Jope Tarai The University of the South Pacific
  • Romitesh Kant The University of the South Pacific
  • Renata Varea The University of the South Pacific
  • Jason Titifanue The University of the South Pacific
Keywords: crisis response, Cyclone Winston, cyclones, Fiji, disaster communication, Pacific Islands, social media


This article presents an analysis of how social media was used during Tropical Cyclone Winston, the strongest recorded tropical storm that left a wake of destruction and devastation in Fiji during February 2016. Social media is increasingly being used in crises and disasters as an alternative form of communication. Social media use in crisis communication varies according to the context, the disaster and the maturity of social media use. Fiji’s experience during TC Winston contributes to the growing literature as it shows how social media was used during each stage of a disaster in a developing country. The article finds that before the cyclone, people used social media to share information about the cyclone and to be informed about the cyclone. During the cyclone, individuals used social media to share their experiences with some citizens capturing the cyclone as it happened and even one citizen live-tweeted her ordeal during the cyclone. Finally, following the cyclone, the hashtag #StrongerThanWinston was coined as a rallying point to bolster a sense of national solidarity.


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How to Cite
Finau, G., Cox, J., Tarai, J., Kant, R., Varea, R., & Titifanue, J. (2018). Social media and disaster communication: A case study of Cyclone Winston. Pacific Journalism Review : Te Koakoa, 24(1), 123-137.