Tech Report: Massachusetts Manhunt And Role Of Social Media

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A runner reacts near Kenmore Square after two bombs exploded during the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Alex Trautwig/Getty Images)

A runner reacts near Kenmore Square after two bombs exploded during the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Alex Trautwig/Getty Images)

LarryMagid01-228 Larry Magid
Larry Magid is a technology journalist and an Internet safe...
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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)—In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, Boston police asked the public via Twitter to provide tips to help find the suspect. But they’ve also been asking people to exercise some restraint with social media.

The positive thing about Facebook, Twitter and social media is that it gets the public involved in solving a crime. It’s an excellent way of crowd sourcing and distributing video, pictures and gathering tips.

On the other hand one of the particular concerns that the police have is how people tend to send out information on actual police activity. They have feared that it could give away what they’re doing, that it could jeopardize the officer’s safety and that the suspect could be monitoring social media to their benefit.

Case in point was when former cop-gone-renegade Christopher Dorner was making headlines in Southern California a couple months ago, police and authorities had grounded news media helicopters over that manhunt and had asked outlets to stop sending out tweets regarding police activity.

Another problem is fake tweets, rumors and fake social media pages. People have set up fake Facebook accounts where they pose as the suspect for whatever reasons.

Rumors and inaccuracies have been prevalent in these situations as well. There have been instances where people have posted (or blogs, media sources and outlets have done this as well) things they’ve heard on scanners that turn out to be inaccurate.

Don’t be a part of the problem. Don’t spread rumors. Do your own vetting like journalists do to make sure it’s coming from a reliable source before you pass it on.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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