Society

Reddit Apologizes for Starting Boston Bomber 'Witch Hunt'

| by
article imagearticle image

The Boston Marathon spurred some of the most heated online discussions and postings ever seen. Many Internet users took it upon themselves to become amateur detectives, scouring photos of the massacre for evidence of the bombers.

But many of these investigators, unsurprisingly, targeted the wrong people. This resulted in a flood of misinformation being spread online.

One of the main methods people used to gather and convey information about the bombings was Reddit. Reddit general manager Erik Martin sent out a public apology for the Reddit community starting a "witch hunt" and targeting innocent people.

"Though it 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," Martin wrote. 

One person in particular was the subject of much discussion: Sunil Triphathi. He was named by amateur detectives as one of the suspects. That information was quickly spread online once it was posted on Reddit.

"We have apologized privately to the family of missing college student Sunil Triphathi, as have various users and moderators," Martin said. "We want to take this opportunity to apologize publicly for the pain they have had to endure."

"This crisis has reminded us of the fragility of people's lives and the importance of our communities, online as well as offline. After this week, which showed the best and worst of Reddit's potential, we hope that Boston will also be where Reddit learns to be sensitive of its own power."

Reddit moderators also learned from the experience, and are now going to monitor posts more closely.

While the site doesn't have many rules, it does say users should not post personal information about people.

"We will certainly be more proactive in our enforcement of that no personal information policy in these situations," Martin said.

"The conversation has been and is already taking place on Reddit. We want that to continue and for people to realize what's at stake."

Sources: The Verge, RT