Nowadays, social networking sites have provided an accessible means to convey social support to grievers who mourn for the dead. To explore how Twitter is used to convey social support after a non-celebrity's death, this study conducted a content analysis of 1,557 Twitter posts bearing the hashtag #Fallen44--a reference to the death of 44 elite Philippine policemen during a terrorist manhunt. Using a hybrid coding approach, the findings show that Twitter users conveyed social support by sending informational (56.28%) and emotional (39.76%) support messages. Informational support was mostly expressed by posting or sharing pictures and news articles relevant to the Fallen44, while emotional support was mostly conveyed by paying tribute, showing sympathy, and offering prayers for them. Moreover, a small proportion (3.96%) of tweets did not convey social support but reflected humor or anger or were spam messages. This study is one of the first to provide empirical support for the use of Twitter to convey social support after a non-celebrity's death in an Asian setting. Practical and theoretical implications for online social support are discussed.
Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, Vol.18, No.11, pp.641-646