During hazardous events, communities can use existing social media networks to share information in real time and initiate a local disaster response. This research conducted a web-based survey to explore two behaviors around the use of social media during hurricanes: seeking help and responding to help requests. Through the survey, we sampled 434 individuals across several counties affected by 2018 hurricanes Florence and Michael, which were both designated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as billion-dollar weather disasters. The survey questions collected data about demographics, social media use habits, perceptions towards social media, hurricane damages, and actions taken during a hurricane to seek and provide help. The Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) was used to conceptualize and frame parameters that affect intentions and behaviors regarding the use of social media during hurricanes to seek and provide help. Survey responses are analyzed using statistical regression to evaluate hypotheses about the influence of factors on seeking help and responding to help requests. Regression analyses indicate that attitude and perceived behavioral control predict intention to access social media during a hurricane, partially supporting the TPB. Intention and experiencing urgent damages predict help-seeking behaviors using social media. Posting frequency to social media under normal conditions and the number of help requests seen during the event predict help-responding behaviors. Linear regression equations governing intention and behavior were parameterized using survey results. The factors underlying social media behavior during hurricanes as identified in this research provide insight for understanding how smart information technologies, such as personal devices and social media networks, support community self-sufficiency and hazard resilience.
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