#Ebola: the use of different humour types on Twitter during the Ebola crisis.

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Microblogs such as Twitter have increasingly been linked to crisis communication. As a result, research has aimed to gain more insight into the content of tweets during a crisis. One content type that occurs in such tweets is humour. In this study, it was investigated to what extent is there a relationship between types of humour in tweets and the persistence of a crisis. More specifically, it was explored to what extent there is a relationship between the use of different humour types and the expression of concern in tweets during different phases of the Ebola crisis. 9,033 tweets were annotated in terms of humour type and concern, after which the relationship between the two variables was considered in the early phase, the middle phase and the late phase of the Ebola crisis. A relationship was found between humour type and phase, as irony was used less than expected based on coincidence in the last phase. Overall, the most common humour types were insult and irony, although ‘other humour’ and ‘no humour’ were found more often. In terms of relation to concern, the majority of most humour types did not include any. Irony included concern more often than expected based on coincidence, but the majority of ironic tweets still included no concern at all. However, anecdotes were the only exception, as most anecdotal humorous tweets also included concern. In conclusion, the study suggests that the benign violation theory may be used to describe humour use on Twitter during crisis situations. Furthermore, the new insights in the links between anecdotes and concern, and irony and concern, may be used when future crises are analysed by organisations and governments. Crisis communication could be adjusted accordingly.
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