Twelve hours after the bombings, a digitally manipulated clip of Family Guy hit YouTube, purporting that a March 17 episode predicted the attack. The episode ends with Peter Griffin accidentally blowing up a bridge after calling a terrorist's cell phone. Footage was doctored to make it seem like Peter made the call after an unrelated moment in the episode when sports anchor Bob Costas asked Peter how we won the Boston Marathon. Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane responded with the Tweet "The edited Family Guy clip currently circulating is abhorrent. The event was a crime and a tragedy, and my thoughts are with the victims."
Radford says the public rarely makes the distinction between conspiracy and misinformation, but people like Jones are happy to take them in. "They're grasping at straws anyway, so they're happy to corral in any wild claim, including obviously bogus Family Guy clips."
Perhaps the most reasonable of all the theoretical misinformation involves the suspicious "man on the roof" photo. Taken by college student Dan Lampariello, the photo shows a figure walking on the rooftop of a building near the finish line, just as the bomb exploded. However, a correspondent with the International Data Group (IDG)news service told Snopes.com that the man photographed was walking on a balcony that adjoins IDG offices, an area where workers commonly take breaks. When asked about the image, authorities said they're processing a lot of photographic evidence, but could not comment on specific leads at the moment.
Although authorities say they're "very close" to identifying a suspect, there appears to be no shortage of conspiracy theories, misinformation and jokes.
"You see this after every tragedy," Radford said. "After 9-11, there were jokes. After the Space Shuttle Challenger, within days, there were jokes...That's just how people are."