Boston Marathon Bombing And A Cruel Facebook Hoax

Boston Marathon Bombing And A Cruel Facebook Hoax

As we were gripped by the news media immediately following the Boston Marathon Bombing Blasts, the first thing I sensed was an insatiable need by some news outlets to report some sort of definitive conclusion or wanting to be the being first to report that some terror group had taken credit for this heinous act. One network I was following also appeared to be trying to put words into the mouths of officials they were interviewing. And that is just wrong. Yes it is important to try and find out who the perpetrator(s) are but the mass media news needs to learn to not jump to any conclusions and allow the proper authorities do their jobs in the most effective and comprehensive manner possible.

Again, I understand our need to make sense of such an horrific act, but it behooves me whenever that need leads to misinformation or hoaxes. And it often does. Quite frankly that is inexcusable because it just sets off a chain reaction of more confusion amid the chaos and can lead to delays in reaching the truth.

As for bloggers, well I also understand that there are many of us who want to get something posted quickly and that the need is predicated upon getting precious hits as well as maybe a few new readers in a tough environment. After all we all want people to read our blog posts and/or be viewed as being a credible go to source in the future should something big occur. Besides, information is king and in the aftermath of a disaster or big news event, people develop a huge thirst for information in this instantaneous world.

Of course, when we talk of an event as big as the Boston Marathon there invariably will be people from around the country, or the world for that matter, who knows someone who is either competing or attending. Naturally if something tragic as in yesterday's bombings occur, a person's first inclination would be to make sure that their friends and/or acquaintances are alright and out of harms way. Thus having credible information for them is of the utmost importance. But I also believe it is very important that those people putting up information for their readers do so in a responsible manner.

But that is not what always happens when tragedy strikes. Instead there will also be people who like to spread rumors and innuendo. And I find that to be not only insensitive, but cruel. For instance, not long after news of the Boston Marathon Blasts hit the airwaves I went onto Facebook to see what the buzz was over there since I had read previously some of my Facebook Friends would be attending. It turned out that one friend in particular was staying at a hotel near where the finish line was. So first and foremost, it was good to see that they were okay and uninjured and was very appreciative of their mobile pictures showing the phenomenal response effort given by Boston authorities in the aftermath.

However, as I scrolled down further I saw that someone had Shared a Like with a picture that had the caption "this girl was running to raise funds for the survivors of the Newtown Massacre and she died today in the Boston Marathon Bombing. Please click on like to pray for her." Unfortunately the person who passed this share didn't realize that they had been a victim of a cruel hoax. Of course I do not fault the person because they probably thought they were doing something good in the face of this tragedy - but I was compelled to comment and told them that this link would be so sad were it true but that it wasn't so and that they had been passed misinformation by someone on Facebook.

And whomever started that should be ashamed of themselves because not only was it cruel and insensitive but disgusting given the stigma that the Newtown Massacre has had upon us. But you know I have to wonder? Who in the world could be so callous as to post a picture of a little girl with a runners number on her chest and pronounce to the world that she was a victim of the Boston Marathon Bombing? I mean does such a person even have a soul? A conscience? I mean really - what sort of person could even conceive such a thing?

To set the record straight, though, the eight-year old who died yesterday was a young boy from Dorchester by the name of Martin Richard. Martin was walking back from the finish line after congratulating his father who had just completed running the Boston Marathon. In addition to the tragic death of this innocent youngster, his mother and sister suffered "grievous injuries" according to the Boston Globe.

As for those attending from the Newtown Massacre, thankfully the day started with a somber and silent moment of silence in remembrance for the victims prior to the race and all the participants running in the 117th running of the Boston Marathon from Newtown are safe and uninjured according to the organization's spokesperson.

Thankfully the carnage brought upon the Boston Marathon wasn't greater than it was and much of that is due to the heroic efforts of those many first responders, whether official or non-official. These people did not cower in the face of danger to offer first aid and comfort to the fallen and no amount of gratefulness or appreciation would be enough to repay them for their selfless actions.

As for those trying to pass grief and misinformation -

well, no amount of condemnation would be good enough for them either.


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  • If the click was just to pray, I'll write it off as a mistake. If it was to start a fraudulent fundraising campaign, that's something else.

    I have commented elsewhere, though, about what journalism has become in the age of the tweet and Facebook.More often it involves the sports "hot stove leagues," but it seems like anyone can put out anything and it is taken as gospel. Or there is merely the senseless, such as Good Day Chicago running a crawl of tweets, mostly consisting of #bostonmarathon #rip, so I turned it off.

    This especially seems a situation where the investigators don't know what happened. At least the police chief answered most of the questions at the 6:00 p.m. EST press conference in that guarded manner. But I mentioned yesterday reports that the police detonated undetonated bombs, but today the governor denied that.

    Even in the incident involving the 8-year old, there was a debate on the radio whether the family went to meet the father and was blown up then, or was running away from the first bomb and caught by the second. However, it seems undisputed that that family suffered horrendous injuries, so I guess that detail is irrelevant except to the FBI.

    Finally, as Craig Ferguson said last night, we have had too much of this [pixelated out] lately.

  • In reply to jack:

    Well yes and no - yes they asked to pray and I suppose that is just fine but to post a picture of a girl running in the marathon and say THIS girl died - well that goes beyond the pale in my mind. Think of the parents of that young girl? Friends? Just a cruel thing to do.

    But yes my friend, people post and much taken for gospel I don't understand it, but hey there are some silly and gullible people in the world unwilling to check facts. Que sera.

    Craig Ferguson? Yes think I agree with that as visions of those explosions remain fresh after so many replays.

  • In reply to Michael Ciric:

    On the last, it was a reference to "how many times can't I say it is a great day for America," i.e. the repeated insanities, including Newtown, Aurora, etc.

    You are right that the Facebook post is cruel, but I guess what can anybody do about it? [About the same thing happened a couple of weeks ago where someone posted on Facebook that someone with the same name as a homicide victim was killed.] As you know, I don't believe in Facebook, and know from professional experience that anyone who believes what's posted in Wikipedia is a fool, at least if they don't check out the underlying sources, since there is certainly no editorial control there. In fact, I doubt that there is much of any editorial control at the two major newspapers in town, but they get around that by prefacing the headline with "Report:...."

  • In reply to jack:

    Absolutely right Jack especially that last part.

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