Jamie Bartlett: Social media is 'big rumour mill'
The Boston marathon bombings are thought to be the US's first atrocity to be covered in real-time for a mass audience on social media.
Some of the 24 television channels in the US, desperate to respond, ended up broadcasting information that was not true as a result.
Sites such as Twitter and Reddit where people can post links to supposed information were bursting with activity.
Jamie Bartlett, head of social media at the think tank Demos, told the Today programme: "There was a deluge of information and it was very difficult for the police to know what to trust.
"Reddit claimed to identify the suspect, which then turned out to be inaccurate.
"This is going to be the future of a lot of emergency responding work and there's always going to be inaccuracies.
"Social media is a big rumour mill, in many senses, but there's often very important and significant information contained within that."
First broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Monday 22 April 2013.
- From the section Technology