Social media’s supporting role in the Boston bombing story continues today with the discovery that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had an Instagram account, which he deactivated not long before the attack, according to what some of his friends told CNN. Investigators are especially interested in viewing the photo stream because Tsarnaev decided to delete it, while leaving his Twitter handle open for all to see. Bits and pieces of the Instagram account are still available in Google’s web cache: Tsarnaev liked “several photos referring to Chechnya that were posted by other Instagram users,” including one of a Chechen warlord with the hashtags #FreeChechenia #Jihad #Jannah #ALLAH #Jesus and #God. On the other hand, many of the available photos are “very benign” — unsurprising, given what we already know about the face the younger Tsarnaev presented to the world.
Instagram’s terms of service state that it will “turn its records over to law enforcement officials when it receives a valid subpoena or search warrant.” However, the app’s website also warns that, “Given the volume of real-time content on Instagram, some information may only be stored for a short period of time. We do not retain data for law enforcement purposes unless we receive a valid preservation request.” So, we may never be able to say for sure whether Tsarnaev a Valencia or an Inkwell man.