In the early hours following the tragic events of April 15, Twitter was a powerful source of information. In the days that followed, Twitter continued to play an important role—though often as a source of misinformation.
Twitter does its best work in the first five minutes after a disaster, and its worst in the twelve hours after that.— Matt Roller (@rolldiggity) April 15, 2013
The first bomb exploded on Boylston Street near the Boston Marathon finish line at 2:49 pm.
The very first tweets weren’t the most informative.
Uhh explosions in Boston— DeLo (@DeLoBarstool) April 15, 2013
Holy shit! Explosion!— Kristen Surman (@KristenSurman) April 15, 2013
While it was immediately clear something had happened, it wasn’t clear exactly what.
Two huge explosions near Boston marathon finish line, possible transformer, possible injuries— tooblackdogs (@tooblackdogs) April 15, 2013
I think a bomb just went off in Boston. Can't tell. Can smell smoke. Emergency vehicles everywhere. http://t.co/OTfZnvf9yh— George Scoville (@stackiii) April 15, 2013
According to Twitter’s Media Blog, “The Boston Globe normally tweets around 40 times a day. Over the next few hours on April 15, they sent over 150 Tweets.”
BREAKING: A witness reports hearing two loud booms near the Boston Marathon finish line.— The Boston Globe (@BostonGlobe) April 15, 2013
BREAKING NEWS: Two powerful explosions detonated in quick succession right next to the Boston Marathon finsh line this afternoon.— The Boston Globe (@BostonGlobe) April 15, 2013
Within minutes, victims were being transported to area hospitals.
Mass General: At least 4 patients have been received and expecting more. No more details offered on condition of patients. #BostonMarathon— ABC News (@ABC) April 15, 2013
Photos began to emerge of the explosions.
Runners who hadn’t completed the race were soon stopped.
Of the 23,326 runners who started, 17,584 crossed the line. Last recorded finisher at 2:57 p.m. #BostonMarathon— Runner's World (@runnersworld) April 15, 2013
The race was canceled.
Boston Police confirmed that an explosion had taken place.
Boston Police confirming explosion at marathon finish line with injuries. #tweetfromthebeat— Cheryl Fiandaca (@CherylFiandaca) April 15, 2013
Additional information about the precise location of the explosions soon followed.
Law enforcement: The first blast was at the Marathon Sports running store?not clear inside or outside the store. http://t.co/cYl9HOrfiQ— ABC News (@ABC) April 15, 2013
All off-duty police officers were ordered to report for duty.
Boston EMS just issued an order: all off-duty police officers have been ordered to report in.— Elisabeth Goodridge (@ElisGoodridge) April 15, 2013
What had happened remained unclear. Confusion and fear ran rampant.
Confusion and rumor are everywhere. No one seems to know what to do. Lots of hugging and crying.— Billy Baker (@billy_baker) April 15, 2013
Numbers of injured soon were reported, and quickly rose as information became available.
MARATHON EXPLOSION: Toll rises to 2 dead, 64 wounded in Boston Marathon explosions.— Boston Globe News (@GlobeMetro) April 15, 2013
Meanwhile, at the JFK Library, a fire broke out, causing speculation that the events might be linked.
Investigators are investigating. Any tie to Boston Marathon explosions is pure speculation. More information as we receive it.— JFK Library (@JFKLibrary) April 15, 2013
With cell phone service spotty at best, meeting points were set up to reunite runners and their friends and families.
Family meeting area - Boston Common. baggage claim is now open on Berkeley Street between Boylston Street and St. James Avenue.— Boston Marathon (@bostonmarathon) April 15, 2013
The Boston Police Department was quickly using social media to gather information about the attack and was seeking anyone with video of the explosions.
A no-fly zone was imposed over the area.
Law enforcement encouraged runners and spectators to leave the area.
"It's not safe to be here." - Boston Police evacuating Commonwealth Avenue mall at Gloucester.— Billy Baker (@billy_baker) April 15, 2013
Drivers were told by police to “evacuate the city.”
The Boston Globe confirmed that Martin Richard was among the victims.
BREAKING NEWS: The Globe has confirmed that an 8-year-old boy was one of the two victims who died in the explosion.— The Boston Globe (@BostonGlobe) April 15, 2013
SWAT teams were positioned at area hospitals where bombing victims were being treated.
Street closures were put in place around the Back Bay.
UPDATE: Street Closures: Clarendon from Huntington 2 Newbury, Newbury from Clarendon 2 Hereford, Huntington from Belividere 2 Clarendon— Boston Police Dept. (@bostonpolice) April 15, 2013
The Boston Police Department announced that the FBI had taken over the investigation into the bombings.
Three deaths were confirmed.