How did you find out about the Boston Marathon bombings? If it was through social media, you're part of the 25 percent of Americans who turned to social media for breaking news. Sites like Facebook and Twitter provided information about the attack right away; but how reliable is instantaneous, non-professional reporting?
Here's a look at this week's coverage of the best and worst use of social media during the Boston Marathon tragedy:
Brands: take note Written from a PR perspective, this article features examples of tweets that exemplify what brands should and shouldn't do during a crisis. Learn from Epicurious' insensitive mistake, and follow Nike's inspiring example.
Wrongful accusations Imagine seeing your face identified as a suspect. Because of the rapid speed of social media, photos and stories about alleged suspects (i.e., this mysterious man) flooded timelines and newsfeeds all over the country, and innocent people were questioned and accused.
The rise of the Internet detective Hoards of people raced to Reddit to join a collaborative effort to find the suspects. Innocent people were named, bystanders were accused, and it was all one big mess. Reddit apologized, and a group of users collaborated yet again to send first responders and victims free pizza.
If only you could edit tweets Incorrect information spreads just as fast as facts on social media. By retweeting one wrong piece of information, hundreds more people see it and accept it as fact. Deleting the tweet can prove ineffective, as people will have no explanation of the motive for deleting it. That's why this author argues that Twitter needs an edit button for times of crisis.