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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s Twitter Account: Many Followers, No More Tweets

April 25, 2013

By Gilbert Falso :: 7:58 PM

Boston bomber's Twitter followers.Last week, during the chaos that unfolded in and around the city of Boston following the Boston Marathon bombings, and the subsequent area-wide manhunt for the two bombers on Thursday night and Friday, the Internet discovered one of the bombers’ Twitter accounts.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the younger of the two, participated on Twitter under the handle @J_tsar, and went by the name Jahar. He joined Twitter in October, 2011, and had Tweeted nearly 1,100 times before his capture on April 19th. His last Tweet was sent out early in the morning on April 17 – “I’m a stress free kind of guy,” he said.

His Tweets provide a glimpse into the life of a fairly typical 19-year-old college kid – not counting his theories that the September 11, 2001 attacks were an “inside job,” he claims.

The younger Tsarnaev’s Twitter account had around 100 followers before it was discovered last Friday. Then, it skyrocketed over the weekend, adding tens of thousands per day. The account hovers around 99,000 followers as of today. He was also originally following about 106 people, but a few of those have blocked him, causing his following count to decline to 97 in recent days.

Why the sudden rush in followers for an alleged criminal who would probably never Tweet again?

Scott Stadum, digital metrics analyst at NPR believes that it was, “a combination of morbid curiosity, but also potential for gleaning information about the suspect.”

“Social media,” Stadum believes, “is providing a look into the lives of suspects and criminals in a manner that was only possible retrospectively in the past.”

Social media strategist Leslie Richin agrees. “It’s the same curiosity that leads people to follow celebrity accounts. People want answers. By human nature we are curious to learn about people who have have done unthinkable acts. What could have caused this person to act this way? What was this person doing the date and time the tragic events unfolded? Who was this person interacting with? Where did this person grow up and go to school?”

Indeed viewing the account and combing through his Tweets may give some a feeling of understanding about Tsarnaev’s background and frame of mind.

“It’s not closure, but it’s a sort of explanation,” said Jim Booth, a business consultant who was just a few blocks away in Boston when the blasts struck. Booth, who viewed Tsarnaev’s past Tweets, but didn’t follow the account, doesn’t understand the rational for following accounts under these circumstances.

“If I follow him, it’s like I’m supporting him, like I believe in him,” Booth explained. “I don’t want to support him, I just want to find out what was in his mind that made him do this. His Twitter account is probably the closest I’ll get to doing that.”

Tsarnaev is currently under lockdown in the same hospital where many of the victims from his bombing are also recovering from their injuries. Facing federal charges of using a weapon of mass destruction (among a whole host of other charges), he will likely never Tweet from his account again.

Filed under → Cybercrime, Legal, Mobile, Twitter