Abstract: The Camp Fire in California (November 2018) was one of the most destructive wildfires in recorded history. Dozens of Facebook groups emerged to help people impacted by the Camp Fire. Its variety and prevalence throughout recovery make this network of disaster-specific, recovery-oriented social media groups a distinct context for inquiry. Reflexive thematic analysis was performed on 25 interviews with group administrators and publicly available descriptive data from 92 Facebook groups to characterize the composition of the network and explore identity in the groups. Group members’ identities fell into two categories—helpers and survivors—while the groups consisted of six identities: general, specialized, survivor-only, pet-related, location-specific, and adoptive. Administrators established group identity around purpose, through membership criteria, and in similarity and opposition to other Camp Fire Facebook groups. The findings contribute to social identity theory and the communication theory of resilience at the intersection of resilience labor, identity anchors, and communication networks.
Keywords: disaster recovery; Facebook groups; resilience; social identity; social media; social networks