In the hours after the bomb attacks at the Boston Marathon (2:50 pm ET on April 15) police responded to multiple reports of suspicious packages. At least two were destroyed in "controlled explosions" around 4pm ET. The Boston Globe tweeted about these suspicious packages so residents would not be alarmed.
Readers who were following Twitter live clearly understood the timing of events
But within the hour, others had started spinning up conspiracy theories and tweeting and blogging about them:
Despite the ongoing crisis Twitter did try to self-correct:
As Benjamin Disraeli once said (not the one above), "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding."
And a conspiracy was launched
As people tuned in to the Twitter stream late, they were obviously confused by the timing. Twitter displays tweets in your local timezone. So a 3:53pm tweet in Boston looks like a 12:53pm tweet on the West Coast. As the hours pass, it becomes harder to keep the ordering of events in context - without stopping to actually look at the timestamps.
Then, because the conspiracy buffs were building upon an entirely false narrative it became self-evident that the media was ignoring the story:
By the end of the week the 'fact' that there was a cover-up is assumed, and any evidence to the contrary is further proof. In reality, a lot of people just don't know how to use Twitter: