[Social Media Etiquette] In The Midst of Tragedy: Stop, Read, Then Post

In light of yesterday’s tragic events at the Boston Marathon, I want to offer my thoughts and prayers go to the victims and the entire city. It is extremely sad that we live in a world where such a senseless act of violence would be committed against innocent people that are just doing something that they love. Additionally, it is always comforting to see (via social media) people come together peacefully in order to reflect and pay tribute to those that lost their lives or were injured.  From various companies and companies to notable brands and celebrities, there was an instant shift that virally took place. Although we were probably sitting behind computers or handheld devices when the news broke, an immediate sense of community and joint condolence was shared among the millions of people in cyberspace.

As I watched the coverage yesterday via social media outlets, it blew my mind at how many different stories were breaking instantly. And in height of tragedy, it is always scary and overwhelming to comprehend the full story, but we must always be mindful of what  is true and what is false.  For instance, there was a fake Boston Marathon Twitter account created in midst of many news outlets breaking the story:

Whenever I see things like this roll across my Twitter feed in situations like these, I am always skeptical because there are people that do try and capitalize on tragic situations. Sure, it seems like this is person meant well, but how can an account that was created moments after tragedy struck even begin to hold credibility, let alone make a promise to donate money? When news stories break on social media, (because that’s where most of us get our news instantaneously)  I’m always reminded of that old elementary school term “stop, drop and read“. In this day and age, we typically stop, read, then post– whether it is on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or a blog. And while the first term is used to encourage silent sustained reading, I think the second can figuratively serve as a quick method of social media etiquette when it comes to determining what’s real and what’s not at the height of certain events — and they all can be completed in a matter of minutes. 

Stop: This doesn’t necessarily dramatically stop what you’re doing and freak out, but just take a moment to pause. Because I know of several people that either live in Boston or were running in the  race, I took a moment to check and see if they were safe and sound.

Read: If you’re like me, I follow a number of news outlets on Twitter and Facebook. Reading is fundamental — so beef up your news outlet repertoire if you haven’t already.  From POLITICO to AP to The Huffington Post, it’s always good to have  a news outlet variety. The three listed are pretty trusted news sources, but do take time to read other outlets as well.

Post: After getting a sense of what has happened, I usually post or retweet. This actually happens  for me during the reading stage as well. Even if it’s just a short post offering your condolences, thoughts or prayers to the situation or a retweet of a news outlet bringing forth more information.

Again, this method of social media etiquette will vary for the type of situation that occurs, but it’s just good to keep in mind as we all continue to share information on the Interwebs. To follow up, the real Boston Marathon Twitter account simply tweeted what happened, with subsequent tweets that updated the family members and friends of runners. And while in the days and weeks to come the pieces of the puzzle of this tragic situation will form, we all should continue to keep the victims of the marathon and the entire city of Boston in our thoughts and prayers.

 

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