Posted by: Joel Arellano | November 14, 2013

Twitter and Web 2.0 in national crises

I landed in Boston on Sunday, April 14, then took the metro with my college buddy and my cousin to the stop nearest what became the bombing sites, which we walked through on our way to Fenway. After the attacks the next afternoon, I spent many hours on Twitter that week, with police scanner streams in the background. It felt strange realizing this was perhaps our first truly live national tragedy– although TVs were kept on, most everyone focused instead on Twitter and scanners.

I noticed two effects that I think will appear more prominently in news consumption over coming years. First, folks became more skeptical consumers of media, and I recall feeling very excited about that. Even during a tragedy, I felt glad to see how folks automatically started: A), looking to Twitter for event updates; and, B), approaching that content with skepticism until they found it repeated and validated by others. The consumer evolution was incredible, empowering, and made me optimistic for our ability remain informed citizens during crisis. I also noticed tons of tweets imploring others NOT to tweet specifics from the scanners (locations, etc.), which was an interesting phenomenon and highlights the dual application of Twitter.

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