I first found out about the Boston Marathon bombing on Monday from a CNN text message alert sent to my phone at 3:24pm saying, “A pair of explosions rocks the finish line at the Boston Marathon, injuring at least a half-dozen people.” When I turned on the news and started reading online, I couldn’t help but compare it to September 11th, 2001. It seems hard to believe that Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and many other social media sites didn’t even exist in 2001. Due to technology and social media the immediate shock and aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing was much different from September 11th, 2001.
1. You can search your friends who currently live or go to school in Boston through the new Facebook Graph Search. The Boston Marathon Facebook page was also being updated to notify participants of schedule changes.
2. Twitter users were posting continuous updates on what was happening. The Boston Police Department even tweeted out in search of a video of the bombs exploding at the finish line. The top hashtags in the U.S. on Monday were: #prayforboston, #JFK Library, #Person Finder, #BPD and #CNN.
3. YouTube has set up a dedicated page about the explosions via its YouTube Spotlight account/service, which collects videos on similar issues and it has over 4 million subscribers.
4. Google set up a page called Google Person Finder, which helps people look for and find loved ones who might be missing in an emergency. It is currently tracking over 2,500 records.
This really shows how technology and social media is hugely beneficial in times of emergency or crisis. Even though September 11th was on a much larger scale, how this catastrophe interacted with social media made me consider how different things were in 2001. If the social media devices we use now were implemented in 2001, the public would have been much more informed and the immediate aftermath would have been extremely different.