Officials at MIT had good reason to question why the school put out information so slowly after a report last week of a man armed with a rifle and dressed in armor on campus. The report turned out to be a hoax that is now under investigation. But MIT’s delay was disturbing — especially in an era when fragmentary information gets around at lightning speed.
At around 7:30 a.m. last Saturday, Cambridge police received an electronic message about a gunman . The police quickly tweeted an alert, and Twitter exploded with reports of the threat. What was missing for more than an hour was clear information from the university itself. At 8:52 a.m., MIT’s campus emergency messaging system finally sent out a text message, telling the MIT community that multiple law enforcement agencies were on campus “in response to a report of a person with a gun on campus.” At 9:05 a.m., MIT’s official Twitter account tweeted about the situation.