When tragedy strikes: An online tale of two cities

The casualty toll at the New Orleans parade Sunday was not as horrific as that of the Boston Marathon bombings. Social media flared briefly; then interest seemed to wane.

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Perhaps it was the scope of the disaster in each case, or the respective responses of the two cities’ police departments.

As of Monday morning, the New Orleans police were reporting 19 injuries as a result of the act of “street violence.” By contrast, the bombings—deemed a terrorist attack—near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon killed three people and injured more than 260 others.

Unlike the Boston Police Department, which offered a steady stream of tweets in the wake of the marathon bombing in April, New Orleans police chose Facebook and email as its information clearinghouses, with video of potential suspects sent by email and offerings of a reward posted to Facebook. Only an “unmonitored” account parroted email blasts on Twitter.

One Facebook commenter believed the police should have been more proactive:

“Where’s our city shutdown to find these douchepickles? Get them the hell out of my neighborhood & bring in the Boston PD,” the commenter wrote.

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