Tweeting police scanner news “risky:” police
The bombings in Boston are shining a light on how amateur news hounds with the right social media tools can put the public and law enforcement officers in danger.
In the aftermath of the bombings, roughly 120,000 people turned to police scanner applications for the inside scoop on breaking news as it happened. However, many of those people also posted what they heard on social media sites like Twitter, Reddit and Facebook — and often, it was wrong.
Boston entered a lockdown state Friday and rumours about unexploded bombs circulated on social media. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)
“It’s not just the traditional newscasts, where the TV station produces the news and people watch it at home,” says Patrick Feng, a University of Calgary media professior. “You have people who can really contribute to the story and that also leads to this issue of a lack of gatekeepers.”
With the demand for immediate information in emergencies, police scanners and social media filled a gap and can provide a way for people to feel more informed.
At the same time, it can also lead to social media users endangering officers and bystanders by sharing unverified information.
Dozens of apps available
It’s not only large scale emergencies that see people listening in to scanners.
With dozens of scanner apps from around the world listed in the iTunes store, news consumers can listen in on police activity around the world at any time.
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