Social Media for Good Roundup: Boston Marathon Bombings

Boston Marathon Explosions

Photo courtesy of Hahatango on Flickr.

Following Monday’s attack on the Boston Marathon, here are a few more posts that looked at the role that social media played in the aftermath.

For me, this article by the National Geographic was the most surprising. In it the authors are quoting an expert saying that social media now shapes how people respond to threats: “Authorities have recognized that one the first places people go in events like this is to social media, to see what the crowd is saying about what to do next.” If true, this has all kind of interesting implications that I need to get my head around to.

Kim Stephens looked at how the Boston Police Department used social media.

I’m sure you have heard the saying that “to a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” That’s why I was particularly pleased to read this post by Patrick Meier in which he argues that an online crisis map wouldn’t have done much good in the aftermath of the Boston bombing. I totally agree because I think we are collectively very much at risk of applying the newest tools because that is the “hammer” in our hands when other things – like Google spreadsheets – can be far more appropriate.

Patrice Cloutier wrote a well thought out analysis of the role of social media. He also focused quite a bit on rumour control, an issue I had barely touched on in my post.

The New Yorker debates the risk of what happens when social media turns into a mob and how “the hive mind” can be used productively.

Mediabistro despairs at how the media has used social media after the bombing.

The interesting thing is that it was also Mediabistro who complained about Twitter’s reporting flaws the day before. I just find it plain weird, if people blame the channel through which information travels for lack of accuracy of the information that travels through the channel. It’s as if a journalist was saying: “Phones are so flawed! The other day somebody called me and told me something that was completely not true and I repeated it on air. Bad phone!”. I find this particularly ironic since both CNN and the Boston Globe demonstrated on April 17 that “traditional” sources can also produce bad results, when they mistakenly reported that a suspect had been apprehended.

Hong Qu from the Nieman Journalism lab takes a step back and looks at how the role of journalists is changing as social media has become the medium where news breaks first.

Do you want to know how to fact-check social media? This is how you do it! Storyful’s whole business model is verifying and packaging user generated content, so it’s no surprise that they are good at it. But it’s nice to see how they do it and learn from them.

Last but not least I’d also like to point out the post that I have written about my impressions about the role of social media in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon Bombings.

Do you have other blog posts or sites to add? Please include them in the comments section below.