Bombs planted — all over the city — from the JFK Library to Harvard, retweet to honor the 8-year-old girl who died running the marathon, and the “Bag Men.” In times of uncertainty, people will fall for a lot on social media, and last year’s Boston Marathon brought out the rumors in droves. Here’s a recap of what Twitter got really wrong over the course of the week following the 2013 Boston Marathon.
1. The 8-year-old Sandy Hook runner
The heartbreaking story of a young girl killed while running the Marathon in honor of her fallen friends went viral early. Before Martin Richard was identified as one of the victims, Twitter circulated with the death of an 8-year-old girl who was supposedly given the opportunity to run in the marathon. Some posts claimed this girl went to Sandy Hook Elementary School but was unharmed in the shooting that killed 20 children in Newtown, Conn. four months before the Boston Marathon.
The 8 year old girl that died during the bombing was running for her bff who died in the Sandyhook Elementary shooting rest in peace baby— Orlandrea (@OrlandreaWoods) April 16, 2013
Many fought against the rumor, especially since runners have to be 18 to compete in the Marathon. Some people from Newtown ran in the Boston Marathon and were watching at the finish line, but they left before the bombs went off, according to ABC News.
2. The JFK Library explosion
When smoke billowed out of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, officials were uncertain if this was just a fire or another explosion related to the bombings near Copley Square. And they kept wavering about which it was.
At 4:23 p.m., the JFK Library tweeted:
Fire in building is out, appears to have started in the mechanical room of new building. All staff and visitors are accounted for and safe.— JFK Library (@JFKLibrary) April 15, 2013
Investigators are investigating. Any tie to Boston Marathon explosions is pure speculation. More information as we receive it.— JFK Library (@JFKLibrary) April 15, 2013
But Police Commissioner Ed Davis still said it could be related to the bombings.
Boston police commissioner says he believes 3rd blast at JFK Library is related to marathon explosions. Next briefing at 7 p.m.— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) April 15, 2013
And told the public to figure it out for themselves…
Police Commissioner Davis: No known injuries at JFK Library. Reach your own conclusions based upon what happened (on whether terrorism)— MetroBoston (@MetroBOS) April 15, 2013
Until they agreed with the JFK Library:
Though the confusion went on until the Boston Fire Department confirmed that the incident at the JFK Library was caused by the “careless disposal of smoking material.”
3. Bombs all over the city and Cambridge
Another bomb found in Harvard station... Right next to my school. Sick world we live in— Samantha Rapant (@SamanthaRapant) April 15, 2013
THEY FOUND A BOMB BY HARVARD?— (@camftgilinsky) April 16, 2013
Harvard has sent NO updates or warnings to students! There are bomb threats all over Cambridge, this is unbelievable.— kathleen french (@frenchamnesty) April 15, 2013
Tufts Medical Center:
Thank god the fourth bomb found at Tufts medical center was disarmed, just worried about more to come— Tom Kinney (@TomKinney17) April 15, 2013
Luckily, they were all just reports.
4. The government shut down cell phone service
Some people at the scene hastily tried to dial out for help and alert others what happened at the finish line. Many more people were trying unsuccessfully to call in to check on people they know in Boston. There was so much trouble that people took to Twitter to spread the news that the mobile service was purposely shut down — and attempt workarounds.
#bostonmarathon: all cell phone service has been shut down in Boston. Fears that phone used to detonate a device.Pray for victims.— Bonnie Fuller (@BonnieFuller) April 15, 2013
quick advice to folks in Boston since the cell service is shut down: if you can, change your outgoing voicemail message to say you're okay— Clio (@clio_jlh) April 15, 2013
Hacktivists calling for #Boston residents to unlock WiFi for public as Cell service is shut down.— Tim Pool (@Timcast) April 15, 2013
The Associated Press originally reported that “cellphone service had been shut down,” according to an unnamed law enforcement official, but cellular companies said that they did not halt service. The increased usage in Boston likely caused the spotty service.
5. Misidentified suspects: Sunil, Mike, and the “Bag Men”
Oh dear. CBS reporting the "Bag Men" plastered on p1 of NY Post are not the persons of interest being sought by FBI pic.twitter.com/MNbNASq6Rs— Toby Harnden (@tobyharnden) April 18, 2013
Previously CONFIRMED as true may now NOT be: Suspect #1: Mike Mulugeta Suspect #2: Sunil Tripathi Developing..— Wayne Chang (@Wayne) April 19, 2013
Rumored Boston bombings Suspect 2 #SunilTripathi is still on the run and believed to have more explosives on him.— Perez Hilton (@PerezHilton) April 19, 2013
Writing off what was said on the police scanner and the Reddit thread led people to claim a missing Brown University student, Sunil Tripathi, was one of the suspects until the names of the alleged bombers were released. Tripathi’s body was found in a Providence park on April 23, 2013. Some Redditors and other accusers offered apologies after the Tsarnaevs were named suspects.
I want to issue a formal & public apology to the Tripathi family for any undue stress my Tweet about possible resemblance may have caused.— Kami Mattioli (@kmattio) April 19, 2013
6. The false arrest claims
Law enforcement sources: Arrest made in the Boston bombings investigation. http://t.co/AnIg4vWw1T— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) April 17, 2013
Despite reports to the contrary there has not been an arrest in the Marathon attack.— Boston Police Dept. (@bostonpolice) April 17, 2013
7. Dzhohkar Tsarnaev’s social media accounts
The new normal: Almost every major event, whether it’s newsworthy or not, spurs fake and parody Twitter accounts.
There are countless fake accounts for the 19-year-old suspect. All were started this AM: https://t.co/73zIdk6QEz— Jason Dunne (@jbdunne) April 19, 2013
The amount of fake Dzhokhar Tsarnaev twitter accounts that have popped up today is really disheartening. Have less free time, world.— Victoria Chiesa (@vrcsports) April 19, 2013
Now the FBI should go knocking on the door of every person who set up a fake Dzhokhar Tsarnaev account today. Twitter needs to address this— Alan Mowrey (@abmowrey) April 20, 2013
8. The naked guy
CNN show Boston suspect under arrest after being ordered to strip naked. pic.twitter.com/Wo6e7MLn2q— Aaron Mc Nicholas (@amcnicholas92) April 19, 2013
If one suspect is dead from last night, who was the naked dude they arrested and why was he naked? #Boston— mattxpike (@MATTxPIKE) April 19, 2013
Turns out, the naked man was only briefly detained, but he sparked many conspiracy theories.Christina Reinwald can be reached at email@example.com.