Whenever tragedy strikes, the temptation now is to look away from Twitter because in the hours and days following any major incident we tend to see some of the behaviours which consistently let Twitter down - from sensationalist and wildly inaccurate media reports to clumsy ambush marketing attempts and vile jokes or hateful comments.
This has certainly been true of the terrorist attack in Boston. Whatever the motivation there are inevitably those who see a tragedy as an opportunity - to drive web traffic, to sell products, to gain twitter followers or simply to spread hatred and cause offence.
Of course, Twitter remains a powerful source of instant news and communication at such times but that is often lost amid sensationalist misinformation - both wilful and accidental:
As soon as news breaks, people seem unable to resist the urgent need to create a defining role for themselves in the telling of the story, tweeting or retweeting the most alarming details they can find - or think up - in order to set themselves apart from those who are holding out for actual news. People look to flood the news vaccuum with misinformation.
Simon Ricketts over the Guardian has written a good piece about this.
Others meanwhile rush to judgement, shamefully seizing upon the opportunity to give vent to their hateful prejudices. In this instance people were quick to blame everybody from President Obama to North Korea for the terrorist attack in Boston.
And unlike somebody holding forth in a pub pointing the finger at who they believe is guilty - or speculating about a death toll or motive - those sharing ill-informed theories on Twitter can very quickly become part of a gathering storm which has a speed and a scale unseen in the real world.
Inevitably some of the nastiest comments by far on Twitter have come from vile hate mob the Westboro Baptist Church who have threatened to picket the funerals of victims and claim the attacks were God's punishment for same sex marriage.
Another hallmark of major news breaking on Twitter seems to be that there is always at least one brand which inevitably tries to piggyback on public interest in unfolding events to market products or services.
Remember Gap taking advantage of the deadly hurricane Sandy to promote its online shopping services to New Yorkers trapped indoors?
With the Boston Marathon terrorist attack it was food website Epicurious:
The tweets from Epicurious were certainly stupid but probably crass and clueless more than malicious. We've seen such tweets enough in the past to know somebody will always get it wrong.
However, far more baffling was this attempt to exploit the tragedy, from somebody pretending to be comedian Lee Evans:
The sad and desperate behaviour of some people on Twitter is often bemusing to the rest of us, but exploiting a tragedy simply to get retweets for a fake Twitter account is utterly perplexing.
We can safely assume this bogus tweeter will not make good on the sizeable donation owed and they have now deleted the tweet and changed their account overnight.
As with most things which occur on Twitter, such behaviour is often an exaggeration of human failings. Tasteless jokes and ideas which might previously have drawn a shocked reaction from just a handful of people down a pub can now reach thousands or even millions of people.
The chancers - from the clumsy and the insensitive to the downright twisted and hateful - who would exploit a tragedy may previously have done so anyway in some real world way, but Twitter makes it easier and increases the reach. The result is often a bad taste left in the mouth and another dent in our faith in humanity.