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HindustanTimes Tue,29 Jul 2014

Boston Blasts

Reddit apologises for Boston bombing 'witch hunts'
AFP
San Francisco, April 23, 2013
First Published: 08:31 IST(23/4/2013)
Last Updated: 15:58 IST(23/4/2013)

Reddit has apologised for being a rallying point for online witch hunts as amateur sleuths used the social news website to expose the people behind the bombing at the Boston Marathon.


"Though started with noble intentions, some of the activity on Reddit fueled online witch hunts and dangerous speculation which spiraled into very negative consequences for innocent parties," Reddit general manager Erik Martin said in a blog post on Monday.

"We all need to look at what happened and make sure that in the future we do everything we can to help, and not hinder, crisis situations." The moderator of the "FindBostonBombers" subreddit also put out a statement apologizing for the misidentification.

Reddit along with some of its users and moderators apologized privately to the family of a missing college student wrongly implicated during a quest to use crowd-sourcing to identify who was behind the bombing, according to Martin. Sunil Tripathi not Boston Marathon bombing suspect

"The Reddit staff and the millions of people on Reddit around the world deeply regret that this happened," Martin said.

The San Francisco-based news-sharing platform maintained that Reddit, overall, served as a "great clearinghouse" for information in the aftermath of the April 15 twin blasts that killed three and wounded 200.

"The vast majority of these activities were positive," Martin said. "They provided a way for people to stay informed, as well as a place to just discuss, cope, and try to make sense of what happened."  

Reddit traffic hit a peak of about 272,000 users when reports hit that a second suspect was captured, according to Google Analytics figures cited by the service.

Reddit is a subsidiary of US news giant Advance Publications.

Self-anointed cyber-detectives took to social media en masse in the days after the bombing, sharing and analyzing photos and videos from cellphones, cameras and TV coverage of the bombing, near the Boston marathon finish line. Playing Sherlock Holmes

Taking the lead from the official investigation, the online manhunt notably focused on people with black rucksacks, posting and highlighting photos of a string of potential suspects - sparking warnings of vigilantism. Online manhunt for Boston bombers raises concerns

Photo of Boston Marathon bombings' suspects, which created a buzz online and led to misidentification

Images of Blue Robe Guy, Running Away Guy, Brown Sweatshirt Guy and others have been analyzed in minute detail on sites including Reddit and 4chan.

One of the main forums for online Boston bomber sleuths was Reddit, where a subreddit - a space for discussion on a particular subject - called findbostonbombers has been used all week to exchange comments and images.

Photo of Sunil Tripathi, who has been missing March 16, 2013, was misidentified as a suspect in the Boston Marathon Bombings. Picture taken from 'Help Us Find Sunil Tripathi,' the facebook page launched by his family to locate him.

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