Student Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Fall 12-14-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Program of Study

Communication - Corporate Communication



First Advisor

Michael Bayer

Second Advisor

Caryn Medved


When wildfires swept through the island of Maui in Hawai‘i in August 2023, the communities of Olinda, Kula and especially Lahaina were devastated. Thousands of people were displaced, and nearly 100 people were lost. Just like the speed at which the fiery winds consumed these towns, accusations of emergency mismanagement and a host of misinformation spread by word of mouth and online. The primary local government authority for these communities is the County of Maui, currently led by Mayor Richard Bissen. This case study examines the first month of communication from the County of Maui to the affected communities via Facebook, the county's primary social media channel that also functioned as a livestream for press conferences. Using content analysis, this study aims to determine what effects, positive or negative, direct communication through Facebook had on public opinion and trust in the county's response.


Capstone Project



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