How crowdsourcing sleuths on Reddit searching for Boston bomber got the wrong guy

A subreddit titled "Find Boston Bombers" figured out that Sunil Tripathi, 22, was responsible for the deadly attack. Only he wasn't. This time, Reddit got it very wrong.


  1. reddit is full of self important white nerds that suffer from a major case of dunning-kruger. 

  2. Reddit has subreddits.  The news subreddits, news and inthenews, did a terrific job of providing well moderated, up to the minute, accurate (at least as well as known) aggregation of current news information.  It provided links to all information, corrected everything which was shown to be incorrect, and generally refrained from providing personal information about anyone.  Reddittors also volunteered to do original reporting, providing regular status updates from police news scanners (and not providing information when requested not to do so).  Other subreddits were available for those wanting to speculate, including findbostonbombers.  People provided many photographs, videos, analysis.  Everything was known to be speculation and people were constantly reminded to provide any helpful information to the FBI and other authorities.  In addition, many reminders of instances such as the Richard Jewell incident were referenced (where the wrong person was accused of the Atlanta bombings).  It would be hard to find another crowdsourced effort which was as well self regulated as this.  Also, it became the go to reference for current news and information throughout the week.  Citizens news really came into its own with this effort.  While there were some individuals who predictably would fall into the mob mentatlity of accusing people without solid evidence, you had a chorus shouting them down.  When or where does that happen on CNN or Fox News?  Does anyone speak for the voice of reality and reason in the mainstream media anymore?  I’m absolutely disgusted with the ‘bash Reddit’ bandwagon from liberals who should be welcoming the effort of an interested and informed public.  The alternative is the crap which mainstream media filters down to us.  I know where I’m going for news.

    1. “Does anyone speak for the voice of reality and reason in the mainstream media anymore?  I’m absolutely disgusted with the ‘bash Reddit’ bandwagon from liberals who should be welcoming the effort of an interested and informed public.”

      The persons who expect better from the MSM expect better from the online “press”, let alone the mob that gathers on various subforums.

  3. Journalists should know better than to use Reddit, Twitter or any other crowd-sourced content as evidence when naming suspects in a police investigation. Every news outlet is so desperate to be first that we find ourselves in the dangerous situation where being first takes precedence over being correct.

  4. I was actually very impressed with the maturity of the people in that thread, and how they managed to policy themselves. Many people were raising the issue of presumption of innocence and were upvoted and heard. Being “wrong” is not a problem, it is only a path to being right.

    1. exactly. if it had been BB commenters trying to sleuth it out, and were wrong, the story here would’ve been very different. it’s just because it’s Reddit that has everyoe sharpening knives. even though they were wrong, they were very right on other things, like picking out the younger brother strolling away from the blast in the photo that the runner posted on the running forum. i thought the way they crowdsourced and moderated was very well done. sure, they were wrong, but they must have helped toss aside lot of other incorrect stuff, too.

  5. This, to me, is the money quote:

    Hours later, the same pictures that had circulated on Reddit and 4Chan found their way to the front page of the New York Post.

    So it’s less “random dudes on the internet cause persecution of innocent people” as “notoriously sleazy tabloid cherry-picks random-internet-dude speculation because they’re too lazy and cheap to do their own footwork.”

  6. Thanks Liz and Halloween_Jack.  Reddit is a community, not a news journal.  It did a great job of following the stories and I never went to the findthebombers thread.  The other threads were very helpful in navigating what was said and in self-correcting.  I found it to be the best up to the minute news to follow.  I took it all with a grain of salt and felt very ‘in the know’ of the developing story.  I thought they did a great job overall and it will be the first place I go for information in the vacuum of news at CNN and other news sites that just wanted to make me cry all day and were very, very inaccurate all day long after the bombing.  So much misinformation on CNN I turned it off.

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