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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid