Top 10 Twitter Trends of the Week by Ad Age and HootSuite (USA), Volume 54


As several of the tens of thousands of competitors ran across the finish line at the Boston Marathon on April 15th, 2013, two bombs exploded. 264 innocent runners and supporters were injured and 3 were killed from the explosions. News sent shock waves around the world. As officials quickly responded and began a widely publicized manhunt for the suspects, the world – specifically the Twittersphere – followed every move. USA’s Top 10 Twitter Trends of the Week play out the entire story – hashtag by hashtag.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev are the suspected perpetrators of the Boston Marathon bombings. Only days after the explosions, Dzhokhar and his brother became U.S. public enemies once their identities were released. The hashtag #BostonManhunt refer to the events that unfolded from then on.

After becoming the targets of the massive manhunt for them, on April 18th, the Tsarnaev brothers may have been responsible for killing an MIT police officer in an effort to steal his gun and arm themselves. From there, the chase was on with police officials throughout Boston’s outskirts. Police tracked down their recently stolen vehicles in the early hours of April 19th, all because they ran out of gas. Once they stopped to fill up, the person who got carjacked (and was essentially their hostage) ran away and called 911. Once tracked down, the brothers engaged in a shootout with police in #Watertown, Boston.

Boston Manhunt

Dzhokhar was wounded but managed to escape from police by driving the stolen SUV at the officers who were arresting his brother. In the process Dzhokhar allegedly drove over his brother, a move that Tamerlan did not survive from. Dzhokhar then left the car and ran on foot, which ensued into a manhunt involving thousands of police and military officers. At this point the Boston metro area was shut down and people were advised to stay indoors.

Dzhokhar then temporarily hid, wounded, inside a boat in someone’s backyard. The owner of the boat (seeing its cover opened) found an injured man inside, called 911 and the manhunt ended after another shoot-out and capturing of Dzhokhar, in critical condition. Dzhokhar will likely face a death penalty and was reportedly silent after read his Miranda rights.

Since Dzhokhar’s interrogation in the hospital, officials have released the brothers’ original plan to drive to New York and bomb Times Square. Had they not ran out of gas and got the tip from the man who was carjacked, Times Square may not have been narrowly missed by another act of terrorism. Here’s an aftermath video:

Chechen Connections

The Tsarnaev’s were identified as Chechen. Chechnya is a region in Southern Russia struggling from separatist conflicts. According to the Economist, “so far Russia, America and even the insurgents agree that Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Boston bombers, acted on their own. The self-proclaimed Caucasus Emirate, a jihadist organisation, says it played no part. But America’s investigators still find it hard to understand how a regional conflict in Russia might resonate tragically in Boston.”

After Dzhokhar’s name was published in connection with the bombings, his uncle Ruslan Tsarni, who lives in the U.S., pleaded with the brothers live on t.v. to turn themselves in “and ask for forgiveness.” He, and other family members, said that they had shamed the family and the Chechen ethnicity.

Mistaken Reddit Suspect

During all of this, a 22-year-old boy who has been missing since March, was wrongly accused by Reddit users who were trying to help officials solve the bombings (the boy from their photos was in fact Dzhokhar). Sunil Tripathi’s body was found in the Providence Harbour waters this past week, putting an end to his family’s month-long search for their missing son. So far there is no connection between Sunil and Boston bombings. Reddit moderators have since apologized for wrongfully accusing Sunil.

Waco Tragedy

Our number four Twitter trend, Waco is unrelated to the Boston Marathon Bombings but is equally as tragic. A fertilizer plant in West, Texas, accidentally exploded on April 17th. Eyewitnesses likened the blast to a nuclear bomb going off and felt like a 2.1 magnitude quake. The blast demolished many nearby buildings, including over 100 homes, and leaving more than 200 injured and 15 dead. Many of the people who were killed are believed to be firefighters and those who went to the scene to help battle the initial fire before the explosion ripped through the building. Thousands gathered for their memorial April 25th.

 To end on a brighter note, when tragedies like this happen, people turn to social media for support, information and encouragement. Here’s our blog post on “6 Ways Social Media Helps People Help People.”

Join us as we look at what trended across the global Twittersphere this week.