Boston police turn to Twitter for tips after twin bombings

The Boston Police Department uses its official Twitter feed to disseminate information and gather potential evidence.

Steven Musil Night Editor / News
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In a frame taken from video published by the Boston Globe, the first of two explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. CBS News

In the wake of today's deadly twin bombings at the Boston Marathon's finish line, the Boston Police has turned to Twitter to disseminate information and gather potential evidence.

Not long after the explosions killed two and injured dozens, the Boston Police Department's official Twitter feed was devoted to information about the attacks, including giving frequent updates on casualty and injury counts and asking people not to congregate in large crowds.

The police also used its feed to allay fears that an incident at the John F. Kennedy Library in south Boston was related to the marathon explosions.

The police also used Twitter to plea for information and video that might aid them in their investigation.

Officials have turned before to the social media to communicate with residents during times of emergency and crisis. Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, N.J., took to Twitter last October to issue safety advice and coordinate relief and rescue efforts during Hurricane Sandy.

The social network has become such a common tool for communication, the New York Fire Department had to plead with people not to use Twitter to call for help. It wasn't that the fire department would ignore calls for assistance on Twitter, it just didn't want New Yorkers thinking they could depend on the microblogging service for help from the FDNY.