Tragedy struck at the Boston Marathon today. Two were killed, and over a hundred were injured in the bomb explosions that rocked the world. In modern developed world when a huge event occurs (whether it be a catastrophic loss, or the Super Bowl) it makes its waves on social networks. Although tragedies like today’s are truly terrible, social networking and the impact of network effects may be a welcome development in the response to to such events. Today millions of people relied on Twitter and Facebook updates for information that could have meant the difference between life and death. Local police and news networks already on site were able to identify what areas to avoid as they assessed the situation and searched for additional bombs to disarm. Updates also provided locations for response teams to congregate. This was particularly useful people at the site were unable to place calls due to spotty cell service caused by the huge influx of attempted outgoing calls but wanted to help in any way they could. Additionally, since phone calls could not reliably be placed, people could update friends and family members on their condition. The news and police are also constantly updating the world on the search process for the individuals or groups responsible, and following leads and witness accounts provided them through the networks.
Today’s events were shocking, terrible and devastating. However, social networking and the impact of a large percentage of the population using it actually provided tangible help to the situation that otherwise would have been impossible.