As with the Sandy Hook shootings in Newtown, Conn., Monday’s events played out on social media with similar waves of reaction and chatter, culminating with outpourings of support for the community that was hurt the most.
1. News Breaks
Ask most people how they found out about the explosions at the Boston Marathon and they will likely say through another person. They will also likely say that person was on Facebook or Twitter. At 2:59 p.m. ET on Monday, April 15, the Boston Globe tweeted:
The Boston Globe ✔ @BostonGlobe
BREAKING NEWS: Two powerful explosions detonated in quick succession right next to the Boston Marathon finsh line this afternoon.
The Globe’s tweet had more than 10,000 retweets. ABC News and other news outlets confirmed the event on Twitter a few minutes later and the news spread at a rapid pace.
According to Topsy, a Twitter analytics company, at around 4:10 p.m. there were more than 300,000 mentions on Twitter of “Boston explosions.” At around 4:30 p.m., there were more than 700,000 mentions on Twitter of the “Boston Marathon.” Through retweets and shares on Facebook, the news got out that there was an powerful explosion in Boston and that a number of people had been hurt.
2. Details Emerge, Eliciting Strong Personal Reaction
In the second wave, details about the event spread. Everything from photos of blood covering the ground to a six-second Vine of the actual explosion was circulated, giving people a truer image of what had happened.
But it wasn’t just graphic images and video of the event that spread, people shared their emotional reactions. Many also took to Facebook to search for friends they thought might have been at the event and posted that they were relived to hear everyone was OK.
3. Support Forms for Communities
All that was quickly followed by something seen in the aftermath of Newtown on social media – support for the community. Many people said that they were praying for friends, racers and the people of Boston. The hashtag #prayforboston trended on Twitter and Topsy reports that from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. more than 75,000 tweets mentioned “Pray for Boston.” People also shared photos of Boston on Instagram with the hashtag #prayforboston.