When two bombs went off at the Boston Marathon last week, many people turned to Twitter and Facebook for information.
Similarly, when a young man went on a shooting spree in Newtown, Connecticut, last December, the world watched the aftermath in real-time over social media.
Charles Dumais, principal of Newtown High School, said Twitter helped him comfort people in the school community.
But media outlets can abuse the information they find on Twitter, said Andy Carvin, a senior strategist at NPR. He said that social media plus 24 hour news plus can resemble, "a game of telephone run amok."
Both men spoke on Monday at a forum at Columbia University's Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma.