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 awards and a Clarion for her coverage of The Syrian Medical Crisis, Haiti, The Boston Marathon Bombing, Presidential Politics, The Southern Economy, and The 9/11 Bombing Anniversary.  In 2013, Carolyn aired exclusive stories on the Asiana plane crash and was named VOA’s chief reporter with Google Glass.

You can follow Carolyn on Twitter at CarolynVOA, on Google Plus and Facebook.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid