In the most crowdsourced terror investigation on American soil, we have come a long way this week in the neverending game of amateur investigation on social media: the bags and the backpacks, the smoke and the batteries, the CNN "arrest" disaster and the Reddit photo sleuthing and the Post "Bag Men" turned very bad and borderline racist. Now, as the manhunt continues for a 19-year-old introduced to the world in bits and pieces on Friday, it's only fitting that Twitter feeds both apparently real and very fake have emerged, along with a page on Russia's equivalent of Facebook, and millions of Google searches. Here are the few — if ominous — things we've learned about Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, and ourselves, from the big social media reveal of a man who was, it seems minutes ago, just a stranger.
What We Learned About Ourselves: People Are Jerks
And we don't just mean the "losers" and "small stunted individuals" that are Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother Tamerlan. In the very moments after the name Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, plenty of fake Facebook profiles and Twitter accounts popped up — some even made "jokes" about killing cops. Publications like The Boston Globe, one of the most reliable sources of information in a shaken city this week, found themselves duped into thinking a fake Twitter account belonged to Tsarnaev. As to what drives people to impersonate suspected killers (Adam Lanza and James Holmes, too), we have no answer. But it got so bad that the Boston Police Department had to tell people on social media to stop interfering with their investigation:
Boston Police to Twitter: Stop making up fake Twitter accounts, stop tweeting scanner details, stop telling people where we are.— MyFOX8 FOX8 WGHP (@myfox8) April 19, 2013
All this after Boston Police, in the police scanner live-tweeting insanity of early Friday morning, had told people social media to... stop interfering with their investigation:
#MediaAlert: WARNING: Do Not Compromise Officer Safety by Broadcasting Tactical Positions of Homes Being Searched.— Boston Police Dept. (@Boston_Police) April 19, 2013
Did we mention that the FBI, on Thursday night, had told people on social media to... stop interfering with their investigation?
Other photos should not be deemed credible and they unnecessarily divert the public’s attention in the wrong direction and create undue work for vital law enforcement resources.
At least this guy, in the face of conspiracy theories taking foot, had the good conscience to sit on the URL for BostonMarathonConspiracy.com, which currently reads only the following: