Social Media Spreads News of Boston Marathon Tragedy

Tue 16 April 2013 11:00, Seema Sanghavi

The explosions at yesterday’s Boston Marathon left two dead and many more wounded. According to, two blasts occurred near the finish line of the race. Reportedly, since phone lines were down and cell phone calls could not get through, many updated their social media accounts to let friends and family know they were ok. Social networks like Twitter and Instagram were used to notify loved ones and many were using Twitter to reach out and seek updates from those in the area. The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency also used Twitter to state, “If you are trying to reach friends or family and can’t get through via phone, try texting instead (less bandwidth)”.

Social Media Spreads News of Boston Marathon Tragedy

Reported in National Geographic News, terrorism experts said that social media helped people in Boston determine their next steps after hearing about the explosions. As the news spread on Monday afternoon, social media seemed shaped by every aspect of the response, from runners giving their accounts on Facebook, to authorities using Twitter to give instant updates. The Boston Globe also temporarily converted its homepage to a live blog that pulled in Tweets from authorities, news outlets, and ordinary citizens. Reportedly, information about the blasts spread more quickly on social media than through traditional news outlets. A runner in the race, Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley, tweeted, "I'm ok. about 20k of us in corral just before mi 26. marker. @chelsa ok too."

Stated in an article on, it is reportedly too early to speculate what and who was responsible for the blasts in Boston. However, experts say that the amount of photos and videos on social media sites might help authorities identify those responsible. According to National Geographic News, the media provides an asset for the forensic evaluation and pictures and videos can be examined for individuals near the receptacles where the bombs were found. Also those not fitting the profile of a spectator can be identified. Boston Police are also using social media to get clues on what happened, and posted on Twitter: "Boston Police looking for video of the finish line #tweetfromthebeat."








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