Reddit has banned a section on its website that was devoted to finding the Navy Yard shooter(s).
The shooting at the Navy Yard on Monday left at least 13 people, including gunman Aaron Alexis, dead. Although it now seems as if Alexis was acting alone, there were times when police suspected that there may have been multiple shooters.
Erik Martin from reddit explained why the section was shut down. “We banned it because it violated site rules by encouraging the posting of personal information. The quote from the side bar that subreddit that was banned said ‘no personal information about leads unless you are really sure.’ We do not allow the posting of personal information under any circumstances.”
The link that once connected to the Navy Yard subreddit now reads: “this subreddit has been banned. most likely this was done automatically by our spam filtering program. the program is still learning, and may even have some bugs, so if you feel the ban was a mistake, please submit a link to our request a subreddit listing and be sure to include the exact name of the subreddit.”
After the Boston Marathon bombings in April, many took to reddit in an attempt to help discover the identities of the bombers. This led to so-called “online witch hunts” that caused some people to be falsely identified as the bombers. Sunil Tripathi, a 22-year-old Brown University student who had gone missing, was inaccurately identified as a suspect, The Washington Post reported.
Reddit apologized for its role in the misidentification. “We hoped that the crowdsourced search for new information would not spark exactly this type of witch hunt. We were wrong,” Martin said at the time. “The search for the bombers bore less resemblance to the types of vindictive Internet witch hunts our no-personal-information rule was originally written for, but the outcome was no different.”