Over the years since 9/11, photographers have not enjoyed the best relationship with law enforcement officials. While there has never been any legitimate evidence suggesting terrorists used photos of buildings or targets to assist them with their plots, law enforcement casts a wary eye towards anyone behind a lens seen shooting pictures of something that they can't imagine would be that interesting like architecture.
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But after the attacks during the Boston Marathon on Monday, the FBI is turning the tables completely around and actually asking for anyone with photographs or videos that might help with the investigation to give them to the authorities. It's possible that Vine or Instagram or Flickr or YouTube could help catch the people behind the attacks.
It's a pretty remarkable change. Most photographers have either been harassed themselves or know others who have been harassed by police or security when shooting in what some might consider sensitive areas.
It makes sense that law enforcement would turn to amateurs to assist, given the quality and ubiquity of cell phone cameras. Numerous events over the past few years have been caught by amateurs and shared by news outlets. Considering the amateur video of the first plane hitting the tower on 9/11, it's hard not to imagine there would have been dozens if not hundreds of the same all over the Web in 2001.
Hopefully, some intrepid amateur photographer or even just a person taking a "selfie" will turn an otherwise uninteresting photo into the key pieces in a terror investigation.