This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
TheStreet Open House

In Boston Manhunt, Online Detectives Flourish

Some of the amateur police work didn't sit well with the professionals. Boston's police department, for example, has a very active Twitter account with more than 220,000 followers, but the onslaught of misinformation proved to be too much. At one point, Boston police asked people to stop tweeting information from their scanner traffic.

Other police departments have faced similar situations. In the Seattle area, journalists and members of the public were asked to stop tweeting as authorities looked for a man who killed four police officers in 2009. In Los Angeles, authorities had the same request as they looked for rogue ex-police officer Christopher Dorner earlier this year.

"It's completely human nature, it's to be expected that people are going to take events and try to apply meaning," said Sgt. Sean Whitcomb, spokesman for Seattle's police.

The Seattle Police Department has fully embraced Twitter and blogs, using both frequently. Whitcomb said the department disseminated as much information as it could, such as pictures, on two recent cases in which there were armed suspects on the loose that sparked brief citywide manhunts.

"We also want to make sure we are having a voice in the conversation," Whitcomb said. "We want people to go to us first and cover the information we're putting out. If we can get that done, it's a win."

While Reddit and 4Chan have been around for several years, their prominence has grown of late. More and more news organizations have learned to use them to mine information. For Hosein, subsections on Reddit have become something like local newspapers, except it's the users providing the content.

"Citizens think they almost have an obligation to rise up to do the work," he said.

Hosein says that the FBI's call for help was no different than a "Wanted: Dead or Alive" poster from the 1800's -- albeit with much more amplification and distribution. But he feels that after this week's saga, people will eventually learn to exercise caution.

"There's a sense that we're learning collectively quickly, that we actually have to take on some of the sourcing rules that journalists have had in the past," Hosein said. "I've seen more restraint like, 'Wait guys, hold on, there's gotta be more confirmation.' I know we're learning. I don't think it's going to be repeated."

___

Manuel Valdes can be reached at http://twitter.com/ByManuelValdes

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
3 of 3

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 16,646.47 +31.66 0.19%
S&P 500 1,945.73 +4.45 0.23%
NASDAQ 4,429.03 +9.5520 0.22%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs