When To Start Freaking Out

Audience Engagement on Social Media During Disease Outbreaks

How do perceptions of risk contribute to sensationalized social media spectacles, and how might social media policies further such practices? My graduate research at MIT explores sensationalism and gatekeeping through an examination of how news and public health organizations used social media during the most recent Ebola and Zika outbreaks. I argue that audience engagement guidelines and metrics at news organizations are a key component of contemporary risk communications, and that ultimately, audience engagement is a public health issue — not just a news one.

Want to know more? You can watch a talk I gave on my research below, or read the full thesis here.