Digg Originals Data Piece: when your Twitter friend turns out to be the Boston bomber

We published this piece in collaboration with the Digg team as a first experiment in original content. The post studies the Twitter network of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the younger of the two Boston bombers, who had an active Twitter account, and highlights some of the unintended consequences that come with publicizing something or someone, making them significantly more visible, and thus exposing potentially revealing information.

“We live in a networked age, where you can be found not only through the data trails that you leave behind, but also based on the patterns around your network – who you’re connected to. A lot can be inferred about someone just by looking at their friends and how they’re interconnected on social networks. But what happens when one of your Twitter connections happens to be one of the alleged Boston Marathon bombers?


The more the media pointed to Dzhokhar’s friends online, the more they closed down, eventually turning private and shutting down their Twitter profiles completely. The more his high school friends were pointed to by the media, the more they were harassed for humanizing their friend, Dzhokhar. In a networked environment, the potential for visibility exists. But visibility comes with consequences.”



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