Social Media in situations such as this can be both dangerous and result in hiccups in the investigation. People are listening to police scanners and instead of keeping pivotal information (locations, phone numbers, etc) to themselves, they are broadcasting it for the world to see, including people involved. Not to mention, they are broadcasting police in X location are preparing to do X, Y, and Z could put the police in an incredibly dangerous situation.
Some information can be shared, while other information should be (specifically information the police call out) left alone.
Using the social media, Facebook and twitter, we were able to get the suspects pictures out there and into the public. I believe with their help, the Boston police were able to arrest at least one of the suspects. We only have to now hope that they are the right ones. However, even if they aren't the bombers, they did rob a store and had bombs on their person.
While the wildfire spread of information is rampant on social media websites and channels, they are not as "trusted" as many of the news organizations. The news reporting surrounding the details of the Boston Marathon investigation has left me wondering if there is any credible news source out there. The desire to be FIRST instead of RIGHT is overwhelming. Fact checking is loose and sometimes non-existent. As a result, you have these national news organizations in which people use as their source of information, spreading erroneous information about the situation. Many networks have lost a significant amount of credibility and in a number of cases caused distress to innocent people who were wrongly implicated by the spread of false information.
Social media may facilitate this to a degree, but no social media channel has a consolidated enough message and audience to do the same damage as a news outlet does. The misinformation is too fragmented and given the very nature of social media, tends to hold less credibility. In fact, there are instances in which I think social media has attempted to help the investigation. Using the power of the masses to scour photos, collect information and do it all through a massive network of engaged people willing to help.
Everyone has access to police scanners, the suspect(s) could easily be listening in just as others are at this very moment. The suspect(s) could easily keep up to speed concerning the investigation without everything being broadcasted via Twitter, Facebook, etc. In addition, the police requesting listeners to not disseminate information they are hearing through a public forum is a form of censorship, which is something we should strive to avoid.
While it isn't ideal for the suspect(s) to hear live updates on the investigation, Social Media isn't necessarily to blame 100%.