Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Reyman, Jessica, 1977-

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of English


Communication; Rhetoric; Technical communication; Web studies; Social psychology; Social media--Research; Crises--Communication--Research; Rhetoric; Social psychology


This thesis is a case study of the rhetorical strategies used on Twitter to communicate about the Ebola crisis. A review of the literature provides background information on the intersection of social media and crisis communication situations like Ebola. To analyze the rhetorical strategies in the Ebola crisis on Twitter, a corpus of Tweets tagged with the hashtag #Ebola was collected during a 24-hour time period from December 2, 2014 to December 3, 2014 using the web-based Twitter analytics tool Tweet Archivist. The data was sorted by structural features, and a content analysis of the tweets and URLs within the tweets was performed.;By examining data from the Ebola conversation during the time frame, a system of hierarchy on Twitter was revealed that enables users to make use of structural features like hashtags, user mentions, URLs, and images to leverage the power needed to communicate their messages to larger audiences than they would otherwise be able to reach. These strategies can be used effectively and ethically, but they can also be used for personal profit. This analysis discusses these strategies in both lights in order to examine how an average user can responsibly use the structural features of Twitter to communicate more effectively without crossing into the realm of spam or abuse.


Advisors: Jessica Reyman.||Committee members: Phillip Eubanks; Bradley Peters.


77 pages




Northern Illinois University

Rights Statement

In Copyright

Rights Statement 2

NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

Media Type