Boston Marathon Bombing Illustrates Social Media’s Crucial Secondary Function


Today’s horrific Boston Marathon bombing was a tale told both through “old” media and social media, and indeed, the role of Twitter, Facebook and other social services in getting the news out seems to have reached parity at the very least.

But as Boston Marathon bombing news spread through social media sites across users (and the frustration at initial unconfirmed reports was predictably registered), we learned again how truly crucial social media has become in keeping people connected during a crisis.

As many of us first experienced on September 11th, one of the first reported bits of confusion had to do with cell phone service and whether Boston residents and visitors were being prevented from or advised not to use their mobile phones.

Eventually, Verizon confirmed that no government agency had ordered or even requested the limiting of cell service, and it was likely any interruption in service was due, as with on September 11th, to increased use:

In this void, however, people and loved ones affected by the Boston Marathon bombing were able to rely on social media to disseminate information — and while as we know, Twitter or Facebook is a good place to spread inadvertent erroneous information, it also shined today as an efficient way to boost a signal.

Not only did individuals rely on social media to get in direct contact after the Boston Marathon bombing, but agencies such as the Boston Police Department (BPD) were able to get real-time updates to residents, visitors and the media using social media services like Twitter.

Even now, social media during disasters tends to be used in an ad hoc way — but the Boston attacks also shows us what may be the future of disaster management for citizen connectivity.


Kim LaCapria

Kim LaCapria is a social media enthusiast, long-time Inquisitr.com writer and beauty and lifestyle industry expert. She covers a wide range of social media topics, with a particular interest in style-related apps and services. When not working, Kim can be found on Facebook and Pinterest, skating, and sneaking off to Spa Castle.

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  1. There's the good and the bad….I've seen a photo of a girl with a message regarding an 8 year old girl who died while running for the sandy hook kids. My understanding is that the child who died is a boy and he was a spectator. Isn't the real story good enough?

  2. There's the good and the bad….I've seen a photo of a girl with a message regarding an 8 year old girl who died while running for the sandy hook kids. My understanding is that the child who died is a boy and he was a spectator. Isn't the real story good enough?

  3. I do agree that social media can be a powerful tool to use to connect with others but we need to take anything we read on social media with a grain of salt since there is a lot of lies put out there.

  4. I do agree that social media can be a powerful tool to use to connect with others but we need to take anything we read on social media with a grain of salt since there is a lot of lies put out there.

  5. Facebook was really useful this week as my friends and family at the race were letting us all know they were safe. Mass communication methods like that can be hugely helpful.

  6. Facebook was really useful this week as my friends and family at the race were letting us all know they were safe. Mass communication methods like that can be hugely helpful.