News / USA

    Multi, Social Media Play Huge Role in Solving Boston Bombing

    Multi, Social Media Play Huge Role in Solving Bombingi
    X
    April 26, 2013 8:32 PM
    The two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing were identified, in part, through a massive dissemination of information and photos to the whole world. Twitter, Facebook and Internet websites all are credited with the effort. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how multimedia will continue to play a role in future high profile cases.
    The two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing were identified, in part, through a massive dissemination of information and photos to the whole world.  Twitter, Facebook and Internet websites all are credited with the effort.

    Millions across the world saw these photos instantly.  And this video of the suspects on a surveillance tape from a store across the street from the marathon finish line.

    “Today we are enlisting the public’s help in identifying the two suspects,” said Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI] special agent Richard DesLauriers.

    The FBI photos of suspect 1 and suspect 2, as they were known at the time, were instantaneously tweeted and re-tweeted.  Facebooked and facebook shared.  This is the world we live in now.  Immediate access.  Active citizen involvement.

    “This is a very serious situation we are dealing with.  We would appreciate your cooperation," said Massachusetts State Police Col. Tim Alben.

    So thousands of marathon spectators flipped through their cell phone photos and videos - to see if they could match the suspects. They re-posted the FBI website address.  But the social media aspect had a downside - when the public made a mismatch and targeted an innocent bystander.  FBI special agent in charge Richard DesLauriers warned against rash judgments.

    “Other photos should not be deemed credible, and they unnecessarily divert the public’s attention in the wrong direction and create undue work for vital law enforcement resources,” he said.

    Eventually police got a clearer look at both suspects -  brothers Tamerlan and  Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.  And, through Tamerlan's YouTube page, discovered his support of jihad or Islamic holy war. 

    In the end, it was not a printed news release, phone calls or a news conference that announced the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.  It was a twitter message posted by the Boston Police Department.

    It said "Captured! The search is done.  The terror is over.  And justice has won."

    VOA found out through a police two-way radio on the scene in Watertown.  Boston's mayor sat in a police cruiser, grabbed the radio and addressed the officers saying, "We got him! Congratulations and Thank you".

    Sean Mussenden teaches digital journalism at the University of Maryland.  He says this is the new normal for investigations.

    “It’s also the present, the modern media landscape in which we live.  The audience is a huge active participant in these sorts of stories,” he said.

    From surveillance cameras to cellphones to facebook to twitter to YouTube - the Boston bombing investigation relied on it all.  But in the end, it was the public and their social connections that helped police crack the suspects' identities.

    Carolyn Presutti

    Carolyn Presutti is an Emmy and Silver World Medal award winning television correspondent who works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters. She has also won numerous Associated Press TV, Radio, and Multimedia awards, as well as a Clarion for her TV coverage of The Syrian Medical Crisis, Haiti, The Boston Marathon Bombing, Presidential Politics, The Southern Economy, Google Glass & Other Wearables, and the 9/11 Anniversary.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora