Alert Sign Dear reader, online ads enable us to deliver the journalism you value. Please support us by taking a moment to turn off Adblock on Dawn.com.

Alert Sign Dear reader, please upgrade to the latest version of IE to have a better reading experience

.

News of the incident flooded Twitter even before it was reported on television channels. There was a full delay of six minutes before the news was released on the mainstream media and by then, the internet had already been flooding with messages and updates on the recent blast, in the religious procession, on the tenth of Moharram, in Karachi.

The online world reacted in horror, pretty soon updates of the number of casualties and news of people looking for their relatives or loved ones lost in the resulting chaos made way on the computer screens. Several hours after the incident, bloggers and Tweeters began posting their two-cents on the incident, the outrage they felt and the conspiracy theories they thought were 'the truth'.

'Citizen journalism' took on a whole new meaning as those who were on location periodically kept taking photographs and posting updates via their cell phones making the coverage, online at least, a little more personal and therefore more 'real'.

I happen to belong to a group of people who reads their news online. In fact that's the first thing I do when an event takes place in the country I don't switch on the television for more information, as my parents do. I rather surf the internet and almost every single time, I find constantly updated news about the incident I'm searching for.

Other than news agencies, which normally update their websites after airing information on their television channels, there are a bunch of characters in the online world who have, for the past several years, taken it upon themselves to report and provide information on various socio-political incidents that take place around the country. With time they've managed to garner quite a bit of readership and although their followers don't number as many as they might have had they used the television as a medium, but in the online world, they're considered rock stars. In a lot of ways the internet gives off the perception of being more aware and therefore 'safer' because you're getting one-on-one information from actual people on location on what's happening anywhere in the country. On the flip side, it also serves to unnerve you as you realise how actually dangerous life is becoming with each passing day.

The other negative aspect of online citizen journalism, and perhaps one of its biggest drawbacks, is that you can't verify its authenticity and accuracy. It doesn't take long to spread hysteria by releasing wrongful information, and so with all its instant benefits, this is a problem that citizen journalism comes hand-in-hand with.