Tens of thousands of people joined the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) Massachusetts in Copley Square on Sunday afternoon to protest President Donald J. Trump’s recent executive order banning immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries.
By live tweeting the event, I was hoping to share a diverse spread of photos, quotes and videos that captured the electric, impassioned energy of the large crowd, while also relaying important information to the public.
Covering events via Twitter is beneficial for journalists because it allows them to share bursts of information quickly, especially for fast-moving events such as what I was covering. However, there were so many people at this protest that I often lost cell phone service and was unable to post my tweets until I found service, which was a definite con to covering the event on Twitter.
Another major downside is that Twitter tends to be an unfiltered platform that is open to trolls and harassment—something that I was surprised to experience with my tweets from this protest. I posted a photo from the event, which I considered rather uncontroversial, of prayer rugs set up on the ground outside Trinity Church. The tweet set off a firestorm of responses—with it currently boasting 860 retweets 2,223 likes. A lot of the responses were positive, with people considering the image a depiction of religious tolerance, but many were despicably racist, Islamophobic and xenophobic. Unfortunately, covering events on Twitter makes journalists vulnerable to that hatred.