The DMLP blog has been on an unplanned break for a while as a result of the Boston Marathon bombings and subsequent manhunt. Like many in the Boston-Cambridge-Watertown area, we have had our past two weeks disrupted both with our personal attempts to come to terms with this senseless act of violence and by last Friday's "shelter-in-place" request by law enforcement.
There has been outstanding coverage and analysis of these events already by both mainstream and independent media, but one particular aspect which has stood out for many commentators was the role played by social media. For many in the Boston area, platforms such as Twitter and Reddit became a key way for the community to share its experiences and reactions, anger, fear, and prayers. Last Friday in the Watertown area, social media took on another aspect as the way in which many of us who sat locked in our houses reached out to one another for news and support.
However, there was also controversy around social media, in particular concerns about "witch hunts" among social media users while the suspects were still unknown. While these problems were not limited to social media platforms, there has been significant commentary about how social media either helped or hindered law enforcement efforts and public understanding in a crisis situation. read more »