Since I got a Twitter account recently, I haven’t been sure of what to do with it. On Monday, I found a very good, but very unpleasant, use for it.
As with so many things these days, I found out about the Boston Marathon bombings through a reference on someone’s Facebook profile. Scrolling through the newsfeed, I saw a status from a college classmate:
“Slowly finding out more about what happened during the Boston Marathon,” it read.
I jumped over to Twitter and, sure enough, a photo of the scene of the first explosion had already been retweeted by a friend. Reports of a series of explosions were starting to come in, intermixed with Pulitzer prize winners and the announcement that Chris Hardwick will be in Baltimore on May 24.
“Two men had bombs strapped to themselves and they both went off,” a tweet posted 32 minutes before I logged on read, “everyone is scrambling.”
Switching over to the New York Times’ website, there were only a few short lines confirming that explosions had occurred, not even using the word “bomb.”
Facebook and the news sites stayed quiet a bit longer, but Twitter was shot through with reports, mostly from the Associated Press and journalists who were already on site. The Boston Globe posted a video of the first explosion, and soon it was possible see it from nearly every angle by scanning the tweets.
Not everything tweeted that day was accurate (the report of suicide bombers doesn’t jibe with what investigators are learning about the bombs) but the most necessary information was imparted as quickly as possible.
So that, it seems, is what Twitter is for.