by CASEY BENZI Staff Writer
Americans experienced another terrorist attack during the Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts on Monday, April 15, and members of social media sites thought they were leaking out valuable information, but in fact they hindered investigations.
Social media is potentially the fastest way to spread new information to a mass audience in the modern day because of the number of users.
On Twitter alone, there are 554,750,000 members with 9,100 tweets happening every second. With that many people using just one website of social media, any “hot topic” will spread like wildfire, as did the Boston bombing information.
Anyone nowadays can tune into the broadcasting stations of police scanners. As people heard new information being discussed, they felt that by posting alleged names of suspects on Twitter, it would help raise awareness.
Many law enforcement agencies are now blaming members of social media sites for all of the false information mentioned, but in reality, it was the police that wanted pictures and information let out to notify Watertown residents of the potential danger.
“I think it made people more scared than they needed to be; like they would say things that would make you terrified but would not actually happen,” says freshman Andre Silva.
During the craziness in Boston after the marathon, people posted some realistic yet terrifying pictures and videos of the police and heavily armed S.W.A.T. teams entering homes, searching for possible suspects of the Boston bombings. Many people made it seem like the law enforcers were the intruders, but in fact they were trying to protect the citizens of not only Boston, but of the United States.
Members of sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram need to realize that not everything that they hear or see on the Internet is true. Also, they must know that posting false information is harmful to everyone, especially the wrongfully accused person.
As citizens heard speculation of possible suspects, they not only released names, but searched any other background information they could find, making themselves feel like special detectives.
The most horrible event during this time of chaos was when people thought it would be funny to create fake profiles of the supposed suspects on Facebook and Twitter. I assume these people wanted to frighten others and try to act funny pretending to be terrorists, but I cannot see how one would find that amusing.
For this situation, social media mostly spread the gruesome pictures and facts of the bombings because that is what attracts the most attention. It is perhaps better for the population to be notified of a crisis like this fully through a reliable reporter so citizens know for sure what is going on in their country versus someone’s personal spin on the facts.
When ground breaking events happen in the world, not even most news stations can determine accurate facts. Once one person has an idea of what happened, it spreads to everyone else who is desperate for any reasoning behind the event.
“It made citizens more anxious because the citizens probably knew later it was false information but it made people actually wonder and want to know the real information. It could of also had people get more happy because they would get very excited when they see the suspects were caught even if they weren’t, but the people wouldn’t have any idea,” says freshman Ashlyn Peterson.