Social Media’s Role in the Boston Bombings

I remember finding out about the Boston Bombings on social media. There were tweets with the first pictures surfacing from the scene. People weren’t too far away from the blast and showing the clouds of rising smoke. I kept searching for me and waiting to see what was going to come next. The next set of images I saw were people fleeing and images of those being rescued. Videos started to filter in quickly and we were in for days and day of social media coverage of this horrific event.

I rarely watch the news but in this instance I did although most of what I learned was driven by social media. I used TV in the background to supplement what I was learning online.

In a time of crisis news organizations have to be accurate and forget about being the first to report something to score in the viral post department. This has to be stressed to employees. From our lecture this week I learned that inaccurate information from CNN spread more than a correction they made. In a time of crisis people on social media aren’t going to fact check for themselves before sharing information. News organizations have to do the checking for their audience.

With this type of tragedy comes those who want to profit from attention. The broadcaster who posted a picture of an injured boy and asked for likes used an extremely unethical move. The only way I could excuse this behavior is if the person had the right intentions but with the language used, it is apparent the broadcaster wanted to capitalize off the situation for engagement. This broadcaster shouldn’t have asked people to specifically like the image. That’s what throws me off on this one.

I found these awful posts on through a Google search of Social Media Boston Bombings.

Ford Motor Company is another situation that I think could’ve been avoided. They used product placement when thanking the first responders. They saw a situation and took advantage of it. If a company is sincere and wants to show their thanks, a product shouldn’t be involved. The users who commented about commercial interests and opportunistic advertising are right. I agree 100% with them. Next time Ford should evaluate their accompanying image and think how it will affect people.

I do think brands should hold off on posting content during a breaking news situation like the Boston Bombings. The last thing I want to see is a sales flier or a piece of unrelated content while reading through mphoto-81-550x207y newsfeed about a tragedy where people lost their lives. If a brand doesn’t want to address the situation at hand, they should just be silent for a while. Give people a break while they digest the severity of the situation.


What social media platform provided you the most information about the Boston Bombings?

Can you recall any other brands/people taking advantage of the situation to improve their engagement or follower growth?


One thought on “Social Media’s Role in the Boston Bombings

  1. Thanks Stacy. In my view a company should think through how it should respond to a disaster (or not) via social media in its strategic planning. It is a good exercise for away days and staff training.

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