Social Media in Emergencies (Part of UNHCR Emergency Handbook)

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Primary Target Country
Publishing Organisation UNHCR
Language English
Year Published 2020
Target Audience Practitioners
Status Published
Disaster Management Phase During
Covers Thematic Community management, Content creation, Social Media Strategy
Audience Experience Level Starter
Source Website https://emergency.unhcr.org/entry/29319/social-media-in-emergencies
Abstract Key points
  • Document what you are seeing: take photos and short videos.
  • Seek informed consent from anyone featured in your photographs and videos. Make sure they understand that their image might be distributed widely on internet, broadcast on television, etc.
  • Where possible, let people talk about their own experiences; do not speak for them.
  • For video, hold the camera horizontally so television broadcasters can use it-
  • For Twitter, turn on the SMS feature so you can send and receive messages via SMS without need of an internet connection.


Top Tips for Staff Using Social Media

  • Think before you post and use common sense
  • Be aware that, when you share facts or opinions, it may be assumed that you endorse that information.
    • Don't say anything online that you wouldn't be comfortable seeing quoted on CNN, being asked about by your mother, or justifying to your boss.
  • Be honest.
    • Do not mislead or invite misinterpretation. If you did not witness an event, do not imply that you did. UNHCR's credibility may be at stake.
  • Be accurate.
    • Outdated figures or erroneous information can spread rapidly on socialmedia. Always double-check your facts before posting.
  • Be clear.
    • If your post might be misinterpreted, find a clearer way to phrase your message.
  • Exercise discretion.
    • Leave sensitive issues to personnel specifically authorized to speak on them. When in doubt, consult your supervisor.
  • Respect confidentiality.
    • Do not share information that is not meant for external audiences, such as details that could compromise diplomacy or protection.
  • Ensure safety and protection.
    • Bear in mind that information you post, especially locations or personal details, could put you or others at risk.
  • Show respect and seek consent.
    • When you talk about, photograph or videotape people we protect and assist, strive to respect their dignity.
  • Avoid taking sides.
    • UNHCR personnel must honor humanitarian principles, including impartiality, neutrality and independence. Refrain from making political statements that might compromise UNHCR's relationships with governments, partners or other stakeholders.
  • Stick with what you know.
    • When talking about UNHCR's work, focus on your own experiences and areas of expertise.


Please note: Access to the following link is currently only available for project partners

Tips for staff using Social Media https://safetyinnovationcenter.sharepoint.com/:b:/r/sites/LINKS_shared/Freigegebene%20Dokumente/WP4/Guidelines/Guideline%20Documents/Working%20documents/Action%20cards/G24_Tips%20for%20staff_extract_level1.pdf

Is Archived No
Covers platforms Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube

The guidelines cover the use of social media for communication with the general public by UNHCR staff working in crisis situations. Contains a brief overview of key considerations, best practices and more.