Sunday, August 08, 2010

Get it Right, Twitter AND Twitpic: Transit Police Make Arrest Thanks To Twitter

WBZ reports, Transit Police Make Arrest Thanks To Twitter:
Transit Police are crediting the use of Twitter for a recent arrested they made.

Officers arrested Lawrence Maguire, 59, of Dorcester, late Friday night after he was reportedly touching himself inappropriately on a Red Line train Wednesday night.

Nay Khun was on that train and saw Maguire.

In an effort to report the crime he took a picture of Maguire and sent a message via Twitter, a social networking site that allows messages of up to 140 characters, to the MBTA.

On Khun's account, @Nykwil, he wrote: #mbta pervert on the 2nd car of the red line going to Braintree just passed Charles help me report him in hat.

He included the picture he took.
He didn't include the picture, he included a link to the picture.

WBZ isn't the only media outlet that is leaving out the fact that twitter doesn't host photos.

I can understand how it's an easier story to tell if they just report that twitter was used to report the crime, but when you write an article online, embed the tweet in it, and then exclude the link to the photo, you're leaving out the main part of the story.


Why leave out the link and replace it with, "He included the picture he took."

That's not right.

He included A LINK TO the picture he took. Here it is:


#mbta pervert on the 2nd car of the red line going to Braintree just passed Charles help me report him in hat Aug 04 21:31:44 via Twitter for iPhone

Elsewhere: - MBTA aided by rider reports in arrests of two passengers:
O’Connor said a passenger near MaGuire posted a picture on Twitter that led to MaGuire.
Boston Herald - After Herald tip, MBTA turns to social media to help fight crime on trains:
“It feels good to do something good,” Khun told the Herald yesterday, adding that he did not think it would lead to an arrest so quickly. “You think to yourself, ‘This is the right thing to do.’ I hope that people see this as an example to speak up. Some people are too shy to say something or confront somebody in public. On Twitter it’s so much easier.”

That was his logic Wednesday when, instead of calling police, he posted a text alert and photo on the social networking site while riding over Longfellow Bridge.

He included the picture he took. = 32 Characters = 25 Charaters


The Boston Channel -Twitter Leads To Sex Arrest:
BOSTON -- An alert rider on the Red Line used Twitter to help Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority police capture a man believed to be exposing himself to riders earlier in the week.

Lawrence Maguire
Lawrence Maguire, 59, of Dorchester was arrested Friday after MBTA officials said a rider snapped a picture of him, then sent it around the social networking site with a warning message.
7 News - Tweet leads to arrest of alleged T flasher:
Nay Khun, a rider on the T, saw the alleged crime and posted about it on his Twitter account. He also posted a picture of McGuire.
CNN - Twitter photo helps nab suspected flasher:
An alert rider of the Boston area transit system helped nab an alleged flasher by posting a photo of the suspect on Twitter, according to the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority...
Khun immediately posted to his Twitter account a photo of the man, saying "pervert on the 2nd car of the red line ... help me report him."
NECN - Twitter update sparks MBTA arrest:
The 29-year-old relayed his concern the only way he felt comfortable: through his Twitter account, linking the photo and a message to the MBTA's profile.
Someone gets it almost perfectly right:

My Fox Boston includes text referring to a link to a picture AND includes an image of the full tweet. Too bad they didn't include a clickable URL in the transcription of the tweet, then they'd have gotten the story 100% right.

My Fox Boston - MBTA perv busted thanks to Twitter:
Nay Khun spotted the act, then took to Twitter. His Tweet read: "#mbta pervert on the 2nd car of the red line going to Braintree just passed Charles help me report him in hat." It also included this link to a picture of Maguire on the T.


  1. Aha. Reading your blog makes it clearer. You're correct that they could have just given the link in their story and it would have been fewer characters. Trouble is, many news organizations - in this age of fickle readers - are loathe to share a link that will allow readers to go elsewhere and perhaps not return.

    I'm just speculating here, but that could have been the reason that none of the news organizations added a phrase that said, "and here's a link to the photo he posted."

    I would also venture to guess that only the microcosm that is Twitter users would make the distinction about a photo being shared via Twitter and a photo being shared via a link posted on Twitter.

    As Ted started to point out in his tweets to you - (by the way, the NY Times doesn't recognize 'tweeting' as a verb for updating your Twitter status) - expecting that reporters know this stuff is unrealistic.

    Reporters still go up to fire chiefs at fires and ask if anyone was inside. While that might make sense to you and me, a fire chief gets livid because as he know (from his specialized knowledge) he won't know if anyone was inside until after the investigation, which won't happen until after the fire is out.

    So, expecting reporters to have specialized knowledge about everything they report on is a bit flattering, but I can assure you we often learn from our subjects or by making mistakes in the field first.

    Going back to the piece, had I written it I would have probably said it in a very similar way. In fact, I know better and I still tell people to see my tweets for photos of my food....when we all know that my 'Twitter Status Updates' provide a link to another microblog where you can see photos that are actually hosted on another server somewhere.

    Sometimes clarity isn't clear, but sometimes it doesn't have to be.

    Last thought...what harm comes from the piece if it causes every single reader who saw it to think that Twitter allows you to share photos? Because that's pretty much the point that comes across the way it's written. And it does allow you to share photos - they're just shared via links to photo repositories.

    No way I could have put that into a series of 'Twitter Status Updates' - would have brought out the whale.

  2. Hi Steve,

    You make a good point in your blog post, but I agree with Jeff Cutler that it's a detail that the general public probably wouldn't catch. Most newsrooms probably don't know the difference either, although I have to say our friends at WBZ do a great job on Twitter.
    The thing that caught me at the end of the piece is that the "Transit police" should be on Twitter "in a month or so." One of their sectors is already on Twitter-@MBTAPoliceTPSA2 . I wish that group had chosen a shorter name, and I have no idea why it's going to take the rest of them a month to get going.

  3. Thanks for taking the time to respond. I feel like the guardian of truth here. I'm still try to keep people from using the term "video blogging" incorrectly, and now I've got to be the guardian of correcting people from saying that they "posted photos/videos to twitter." I know I'm taking it literally, but if we let this continue, it'll never be right.

    I'll agree that to the majority of people, including reporters, it doesn't really matter. The story broke on twiitter. Yay twitter.

    But, the report changed the facts. The reporter deleted part of the initial tweet.

    Why did they do that?

    Do they or their editor think that a URL is too complicated to understand? Are they dumbing down their content?

    This is just not right.

    Leave the original tweet the way it was please.

  4. Jumping into the conversation a little late. I wrote that story for WBZ, and I not only included a link to the initial tweet, but the picture was also attached to our story with a caption that it was the picture Khun took with the faces of other people blurred out. I appreciate your feedback, Steve. Since it's no longer on the front page, here's a link to the story so you can look again.
    Kara Matuszewski

  5. Hi Kara,
    Thanks for joining in the conversation.

    Why did you delete the link to the twitpic in the story.

    You wrote:

    "On Khun's account, @Nykwil, he wrote: #mbta pervert on the 2nd car of the red line going to Braintree just passed Charles help me report him in hat.

    He included the picture he took. "

    Why didn't you write:

    "#mbta pervert on the 2nd car of the red line going to Braintree just passed Charles help me report him in hat"


  6. I didn't delete the link, I linked the sentence to his tweet. The entie sentence was hyperlinked.

  7. Re-read the post.

    You didn't include his complete tweet. You left off the link to the photo ""

    That's in his tweet, but not in your story.

    There must be a reason why you did not want to directly link to the original photo.

    Do you have a policy of not linking to photos under certain circumstances and photoshopping them to disguise people not in the story?

    That's the only thing I can think of.

    Just trying to understand.

  8. No such thing, I was giving him proper credit by linking to the full tweet. Plus his picture was already on our story as well. I'm not sure by adding the link would have added much more. Anyone reading the story has the ability to A) see the picture that is attached to the story, B) click on his tweet which I hyperlinked, C) click on the twitpic. All three of those are viable options. By offering those options, I gave readers ample opportunity to see the picture he took, whether it was on our site or on his Twitter feed.

  9. Part of my view on this is informed by twitter and their RT function, where when you RT something, it's supposed to have the whole tweet in it.