Insane. That is the best explanation I have for what I experienced on Friday, April 19, 2013. At 2:30am I was woken up by texts and calls from a number of friends. A single message was clear, “Turn on your television!!”
Immediately, I flipped on CNN (figuring it was most accurate and least bias) and became enthralled with what I saw. The police had engaged in a firefight with potential Boston Marathon bombers and were currently conducting a manhunt. Yes, the Boston PD was actively searching for a 19 year old kid who had fled from them. This is the same kid who, along with his 26 year old brother, had thrown pipe bombs and grenades at police, shot and killed a MIT police officer, and killed 3 innocent civilians at the Boston Marathon.
Considering my background in military and defense security, I was hooked. Quickly I jumped on social media, specifically Twitter and Reddit. Soon after I turned on the Boston PD police scanner. To say I was set-up in an internet manhunt command center would be an understatement.
After getting set-up, I began live tweeting all of the information I was getting. Things started out slowly and only the die-hard fanatics were awake for the first 4 hours. Between 6 and 7am, normal/sane people began waking up. The fun ensued. As I continued to live tweet the updates I was getting, Twitter users started to retweet, favorite, and reply to my content. At first it was a person here or there. Soon my Interaction timeline had so much activity that I couldn’t keep up. People from all over the world were paying attention.
Almost 20 hours later, I sent the best tweet of the day. It wasn’t the funniest or the cleverest, but it was the most important.
BREAKING NEWS: Reports are saying that not only did we get him. He’s alive. Medic to the scene. Police cheering. GO AMERICA!!! #manhunt
— Anthony Pompliano (@APompliano) April 20, 2013
Throughout the 20 hour marathon of madness, I ate very little and slept even less. There was over 600 tweets total. Twitter shut down my account twice for exceeding their hourly rate limit. I gained close to 550 followers, had more than 750 retweets, and was mentioned over 300 times. While individuals from all over the world were tuning in to stay up-to-date on the newest developments, I was learning an important lesson.
Twitter is the most dynamic social platform on the face of the earth. The dissemination of real-time information has never been so easy. After the second Boston suspect was captured, tweets poured in describing how valuable my coverage had been. I don’t share this to boost my ego. I share it because I think that more individuals and companies should follow suit. Journalism and news are changing. A 24 year old sitting in his bedroom in North Carolina should not be 5 minutes to 3 hours ahead of the major news outlet.
Real-time authenticity is here. It’s not going anywhere. More and more individuals are coming to expect this. From teenagers to adults, people want updates, transparency, and results. Hopefully there are organizations paying attention because if not, they will be left behind!