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Effect of social media on Boston bombing, manhunt

LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

It only took seconds for the news to spread about the successful capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, thanks in part to social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter. Law enforcement relied on Twitter in particular to spread up to the minute information, but also found it a source of misinformation.

Law enforcement turned to social media to distribute images of the bombing suspects, seek additional information from the public, and advise Watertown residents of the manhunt.

Bill Cassell with Las Vegas Metropolitan Police says social media is valuable when it comes to getting information out quickly, but he warns mistakes can be made as people sort through information and try to get the facts out as quickly as possible.

"A lot of people have the opportunity to blast out information that they may think is correct, but many times we find out that it's incorrect," Cassell said.

Thursday evening, Boston Police asked the public via Twitter not to jeopardize the investigation by broadcasting live video of the search for Tsarnaev. Other news outlets reported incorrect information about the suspects, some of which was overheard on Boston Police scanners.

"Information they hear on the scanner that may be incorrect, may be inaccurate, or in some cases may reach the suspect that police agency is looking for and cause a lot of problems," explained Cassell.

Social media also allows users to peek into the lives of the suspects through their personal Facebook and Twitter accounts. However, there have also been multiple reports of fake accounts created after the Boston Marathon bombing.

Some social media users in the valley recognize the importance of being careful about believing everything they hear or read.

"There's a hundred places to get information. You kind of read what's out there and make your own opinion on it," said social media user Ashley Graber.

Copyright 2013 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved

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