What does the Amplification of Risk look like on Twitter?

Lindsay Fellenor

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


According to Rosa (1998) risk analysis comprises of four main stages: i) hazard or risk identification, ii) risk estimation, iii) risk evaluation and iv), risk management. The focus for this paper falls within the last stage, specifically with risk perception. In line with the issue of perception, different disciplinary approaches have explored risk amplification and attenuation. The framework that has received most attention and perhaps the one which provides a starting point to consider the various social dynamic processes underlying risk perception is the Social Amplification of Risk (SARF). This framework draws upon communications theory both for the metaphor of amplification and the description of how risk signals travel through various stations from transmitter to receiver. However, there exist critiques of SARF. For example, it might be enhanced by focussing on how it is equally important that we understand the interaction between the information individuals receive and the medium through which they receive it. In this vein, studies involving SARF have tended to focus on the role of the traditional media as they are perceived as that main channel by which information is transferred between organisations and the public. However, the advent of Web 2.0 is transforming what we understand by traditional media. This presents a case for analysis of this change but also of how we understand the core tenets of SARF, such as what amplification actually entails.
Against this backdrop, the current paper asks the question of what does risk amplification look like on Twitter? Given that different social media platforms afford different types of user engagement and give rise to different types of data, Twitter was chosen to explore the public response to ash dieback disease during 2012; a time when this issue became a focus of traditional media engagement. Findings will be drawn on to illustrate and suggest how the concept of amplification and what it entails requires further consideration in light of burgeoning social media and its entanglement with identity. For example, can a single tweet act in an amplificatory manner? Does volume of tweets reflect amplification/attenuation and how can we engage with social media analysis in ways that enhance our understanding of risk? In a broader sense, is the epistemological climate right for articulating risk amplification in terms ideas borrowed from complexity theory and Science and Technology Studies? Finally, how can we work with the complex entanglement of risk factors ash dieback mobilised and the passion and affect that tree health issues engender as they intersect with social media?
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 22 Jun 2016
EventSociety for Risk Analysis Europe - The University of Bath, Bath, UK United Kingdom
Duration: 20 Jun 201622 Jun 2016


ConferenceSociety for Risk Analysis Europe
Country/TerritoryUK United Kingdom
Internet address


  • Twitter, Social, Risk, Amplification


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