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Chapter 9 Best Practices for Navigating Escalatory Messages in YouTube Comments: Synthesizing Conflict and Crisis Communication to Address Resistance to Risk Messages

From the book Volume I Contemporary Trends in Conflict and Communication

  • R. Tyler Spradley and Elizabeth Spradley


The COVID-19 superpandemic has demonstrated how crisis and risk communication practices, even with public well-being in mind, can create or escalate conflict pertaining to risk mitigation. Given that organizations and content creators may be more attuned to content and media strategies for risk messages than to dispute resolution, conflict studies’ perspectives are needed to examine how stakeholders react to, dispute with, and escalate organizational risk messages through social media. This chapter examines specific, escalatory disputes associated with organizational mask and safety messages on YouTube using Amtrak’s mask messaging from June 2020-February 2021. Amtrak’s stakeholders accept and resist the mask policy through their comments on video posts, which are contextualized by broader social discourse about masks, public health, and viral risks. Stakeholder comments function to support or dispute with the organization and with other stakeholders. The chapter culminates in practice-based recommendations for the concurrent management of conflict and risk communication including: anticipate conflict, contextualize with broader issue-specific discourse, de-escalate conflict, form interprofessional teams, partner with public health to promote health literacy, and respond to stakeholders.

© 2022 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston
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