We Asked: tragedies

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The Question: Early news reports about the deadly explosions in Boston and West, Texas were characterized by misinformation. Did you follow news about the tragedies? If so, how did the dissemination  of conflicting information through news networks and on social media affect the way you read about the tragedies online?

Well, not very much, because I don’t really take online news very seriously. I always kind of take it with a grain of salt and figure it’s better to wait for a couple of days for people to figure things out, because initial reactions are always a little more dramatic. I primarily read news on the Internet, but not necessarily through social media. Usually, even though those are getting cited more and more in The New York Times and stuff, I still kind of like more of a filter on my news.

—Henry Widener
History senior from Austin

I actually heard about them from secondhand sources such as other students, and I’m in a government class, so my professor always does current events during the beginning of our class. People were talking about that — how, especially on Twitter, there was a lot of disconnect between accurate information and, I’m guessing, rumors that were started, or some kind of discrepancy between what was really going on and what people were hearing about. And so for them I know it was creating a lot of anger, especially if there’s things such as racial profiling or jumping to the conclusion that whoever was behind it was from another country, or just having those conclusions as to who did it is bringing up a lot of tensions. 

For me, personally, I’m kind of just wanting to wait to hear until more has come up, because I know with things like this there’s a lot of, you know, discrepancies like we’ve been hearing. So for right now I’m just trying to stay neutral until everyone’s like, “Okay, this is what we found out, we have sufficient evidence to conclude that this was the motive, this was who was behind it, etc.”

—Valeria Silva
English freshman from Edinburgh

Honestly, I heard a lot about this online, like on Facebook. I didn’t really know about it until I saw the [Facebook] news feed. I didn’t even hear it from the news; I heard it from Facebook. I was hearing all of this racist stuff and all this bad talk. I haven’t heard any of that misinformation. I haven’t really been following it exactly, but I feel like people are basing it off of things that they think, and they don’t really have evidence behind it, which is not good. 

I don’t really know a lot about this, but I agree that there’s a lot of misinformation and that they should know exactly what’s going on before blaming someone on the news. I would rather wait and have the right information than blaming this guy who is a victim in it and he’s being blamed all over the news. I’d rather them wait and know for certain, rather than false information quickly.

—Rebecca Ladoe
Undeclared freshman from Spring

I did follow both the explosion in West, Texas and the bombings in Boston, and I primarily used CNN and the BBC news networks. I did notice that there were conflicting reports, and things changed from time to time. And the thing I always just kept in mind was, these things just happened, people are panicking, nobody really knows what’s going on. I just read them with the perspective that a lot of this probably isn’t right, that people are just sort of reacting in the moment, and if you wait a little while, more things are going to come out. I mean, it’s just kind of human nature to jump to conclusions that early. You’re trying to figure out what’s going on, trying to gain footing and orient yourself with events like that, which are shocking, so it happens even more so. You just kind of have to keep up with things, but you shouldn’t take anything the news media writes as gospel anyway.

—Joseph Zukis
Undeclared freshman from The Woodlands

So, the way I got informed of what happened was through Facebook. I just saw that there were some explosions in Boston and West, Texas. People were overexaggerating what happened in Boston. Personally, I think it’s something very serious and should be taken seriously. However, people were just, I guess, overexaggerating what happened, and they thought it had a connection with North Korea, and they started doing those crazy connections. It’s okay to be aware of what’s going on, but I feel like people should just calm down. 

To the regard of what happened, I haven’t come across misinformation, but if there is, I think people are really overexaggerating what’s going on. It is very sad that we’re getting bombed, first of all, or that Boston got bombed, but people should just calm down.

—Alan Medina
Biology freshman from El Paso