In the wake of the tragic events at the Boston Marathon on April 15, people flocked to social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to scour their timelines and newsfeeds for real-time updates, breaking news and devastating eyewitness accounts, including images and videos of the bombings, some of which were too graphic to air on the evening news.
The tragedy magnified the true power of social media, both good and bad.
Like most of you, I found out about the events almost instantly via Twitter, and soon after the news broke people had already uploaded pictures and videos from the scene on Boylston Street. It was a bit surreal to have such visual evidence at our disposal just minutes following the attacks, whether we like it or not.
I kept a close eye on the Twitter discussion with the hashtag #BostonMarathon, and tuned in to all the top news agency’s Twitter handles for breaking news, fact-checking as best that I could by skimming other reputable news organizations before retweeting or sharing. The Boston Globe, CNN, Fox News and the Associated Press were some of the bigger news sources being mentioned and cited for breaking news (yes, even CNN). Reddit users created a subreddit dedicated to important updates, as well as a user-generated investigation that stirred up plenty of speculation.
Two alleged suspects were misidentified thanks to the web and social media. Despite incorrect reports, the Boston Police Department shined on Twitter. The Boston PD reported not only the facts, but immediately debunked false information which was being circulated by misinformed individuals and news organizations (via Mashable).
Social media also played a role in helping those in the Boston area communicate in the hours following the bombings. Without phone service, people took to Twitter and Facebook as a means of communication. Google created Google Person Finder, which helped people locate loved ones who took part in the race.
While the growing distrust in media is a growing concern for us all, the positive effects social media had on the public hopefully will outweigh the negatives if and when we need to rely on the medium in such a way again.
Here’s some more of what happened during the week of April 15:
Yahoo’s latest weather app is stunning
Yahoo is making a huge push to revamp user experience on mobile devices, and its latest weather app is a clear indicator of that. The Yahoo weather app is in part crowdsourced, tapping user-generated photos, powered by Flickr, to enhance the app’s visual appeal.
The user interface is quite stunning. If you happen to live in New York City, your weather photo will be of a picture taken nearby. And, for instance, if it’s cloudy and raining on that particular day, the photo (seriously!) will be one taken on a cloudy, rainy day in NYC. If there isn’t a photo yet taken for that scenario, you’ll get a generic photo; for now, at least.
The weather app boasts the temperature in the bottom left-hand corner, along with the current forecast and high and low temperature for the day.
And unlike other weather apps, you can scroll through a city’s full forecast by just scrolling down the page. You can browse through hourly and weekly forecasts, in-depth weather details, a radar map, and more. At first glance, the app is flawless and a must-have for iPhone users. See the full story and video demo via TechCrunch.
Google+ comments now available on Blogger
Last Thursday, Google took another step toward making Google+ an ideal environment for sharing content. Google announced that you can now bring Google+ comments to your Blogger blog, allowing people to comment and interact via the social media network right on your blog.
This is just like Facebook’s plugin in the comments section on certain websites or blogs. You can leave comments right from your Google+ account, which would then be posted on the blog, and subsequently on Google+ as well, leaving more room for interaction among your circles.
You can activate Google+ comments by visiting the Google+ tab of your Blogger Dashboard, according to Google. From there, you can turn on Google+ comments. Here’s what it looks like:
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Twitter axing Tweetdeck for iPhone, Android and others on May 7
Twitter will officially axe the social media management application Tweetdeck on May 7, according to multiple reports. Twitter said last month that it would be closing down Tweetdeck for Android and iPhone.
Twitter will remove it from app stores on May 7, but Tweetdeck will continue to be available for Mac and PC users. However, you may be in the market for another Twitter management app for your mobile device. Tweetbot is the clear favorite, according to the The Next Web, but HootSuite is another option worth considering.