Twitter lit up late Thursday noon as the pursuit of suspects gleaned in surveillance footage went public, and the FBI asked the public to assist and locate two men pictured in relation to the Boston Marathon bombing.
The FBI’s request traversed the web quickly, downing FBI.gov and causing a flurry of activity on Twitter as “twitizens” helped boost the signal.
Embedded images and video made sharing the FBI’s plea to the public the work of a retweet, and many obliged:
Do you recognize these individuals? Contact 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324), prompt #3fbi.gov/news/updates-o…
— Boston Police Dept. (@Boston_Police) April 18, 2013
This F.B.I. video shows two men wanted for questioning in the Boston Marathon bombing nyti.ms/102HD9K
— The New York Times (@nytimes) April 19, 2013
FBI released images of two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings. Photos: on.wsj.com/17JH1O2
— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) April 19, 2013
Others reported that the FBI’s request helped, and that tips and IDs were coming in:
— msnbc (@msnbc) April 19, 2013
Wow, Bloomberg piece says young guy who lost both legs that u saw in that iconic pic helped FBI ID the attackers bloomberg.com/news/2013-04-1…
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) April 19, 2013
As it was observed, the FBI’s request amounted to a fairly new tactic in law enforcement, including the use of social media:
FBI anticipates biggest electronic dragnet in US history, one of the first major federal cases where Twittter Facebook are in full effect.
— Good Morning America (@GMA) April 19, 2013
The strategy wasn’t universally popular:
FBI: ‘You Know You’re Desperate When You’re Asking The American People For Help’ onion.com/YyjSHy
— The Onion (@TheOnion) April 18, 2013
Thus far, the FBI has not commented on whether the strategy has helped the investigation.