How smart phones have changed terror investigations

Before the explosions at the Boston Marathon, onlookers used their smart phones to capture elated and exhausted runners reaching the finish line. Now, investigators want that video footage.

Before the explosions at the Boston Marathon, onlookers used their smart phones to take video and photos of elated and exhausted runners reaching the finish line.

Now, investigators are turning to those same spectators in hopes that they captured something more. The Boston Police issued this tweet yesterday asking for bystanders video.

Investigations commonly turn to video captured by surveillance cameras, which can be found mounted outside buildings throughout major cities. As smart phone ownership has increased, so has the prevalence of regular folks filming the mundane and breaking news events.

Video taken by spectators spread throughout the finish line area can help investigators see the explosion from different angles and hopefully, help fill in some missing details.

Video of the explosion inadvertently captured by Boston Globe sports producer Steve Silva (see video below) as well as spectators has provided valuable information to investigators, reported Fast Company. YouTube even launched a Spotlight page in the attacks aftermath.

The increase of video footage and photos has created problems as well. Images and video have been doctored or taken out of context and spread across social media networks during other disasters. As Fast Company notes, many were convinced by a troll on Twitter who spread false information about the effects of Hurricane Sandy; and anti-government rebels, Syrian exiles and the Syrian government routinely lie and take photos and video out of context in an effort to spin coverage in their favor.

Photo: Flickr user Mark Z

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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