back to article Student falsely IDed by Reddit as Boston bomber found dead

Sunil Tripathi, the 22 year-old Brown University philosophy student mistakenly identified as a suspect in the Boston bombings by amateur investigators on Reddit, has been found dead in the Providence River, his family has said. Sunil Tripathi Sunil Tripathi, center, in happier times "This last month has changed our lives …


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  1. asdf


    What's sad is many in the media portrait this to be some recent phenomenon due to the technology. What I say to this is the best movie I have seen showing the nasty after effects of this type of behavior was made in black and white way back during WW2 (The Ox-Bow Incident). Largely the only reason people think some aspect of human behavior is new is because they have not lived long enough to see it repeated yet.

    1. Ivan Voras

      Re: sigh

      I wish there was something like for real-world social tropes which repeat but people just don't recognize them. Sort of like a combination of and a history handbook.

      1. Melzeebub92
        Thumb Up

        Re: sigh

        This is actually an amazing idea. I may just have to look into this.

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: sigh

      People are pricks, aren't they.

      And then they wonder what's wrong with the world.

      1. Beachrider

        public prosecutions...

        Investigations can too easily turn into public prosecutions.

        The family was certainly put through some tough stuff.

        The search really had nothing to do with his death, though.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: public prosecutions...

          I believe that the word you want to use is "persecutions".

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: People are pricks, aren't they.

        Those people are us.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: sigh

      Isn't there a saying that goes something like: Evil comes from the best intentions.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: sigh

        >I wish there was something like for real-world social tropes which repeat but people just don't recognize them.

        Many episodes of the Simpsons attempt to condense 'social tropes' (the townsfolk of Springfield forming a mob / the stupidity of the crowd, being recurring examples)... but the message is hidden in the mix with many pop-culture allusions and homages.

      2. Sir Runcible Spoon

        Re: sigh

        "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions."

      3. I think so I am?

        Re: sigh

        Isn't there a saying that goes something like: Evil comes from the best intentions.

        so how does that place Google

      4. Cannorn

        Re: sigh

        The road to hell is paved with good intentions

      5. TimeMaster T

        Re: sigh

        I recall it being;

        "The road to Hell is paved with Good intentions"

    4. RealBigAl

      Re: sigh

      What modern technology does allow though is the dissemination of such information at a far greater rate than previously.

      1. Bent Outta Shape

        Re: sigh

        That 'modern technology' quip was also true back when TV news allowed pictures to cross the world in seconds.

        It was true as radio allowed events to be broadcast around countries in seconds

        It was true as newspapers distributed popular and important stories to the public daily

        It was true when the telegraph allowed news to be relayed to individuals over a short time

        It was even true when the much-vaunted Roman legions and their roads allowed merchants and travellers to go much farther more often than before.

        People are people. The tech gets faster, but the witchhunts remain the same.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      A Pediatrician got beaten up because the crowd thought Pediatrician meant paedophile.

      How easy would it be for someone with a grudge to seed your Facebook, twitter or any other account and destroy you life?

  2. big_Jim

    I'll get my baseball bat

    Crowdsourcing really isn't going to work with an emotive subject like terrorism or murders. It'll just turn into a vigilante mob. It's fine for ancient cartography projects and the wotnot.

    1. Darryl

      Re: I'll get my baseball bat

      I just hope someone at Reddit has learned a lesson for next time something like this happens.

      But then again, being a cynical bastard, I highly doubt it.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: I'll get my baseball bat

      Crowdsourcing works perfectly well with emotive subject like terrorism or murders.

      The problem is that to train a neural net (human or artificial) you need to be able to classify the inputs.

      Since in this case nobody knew what the crowd was looking for - it became a "find somebody young/brown/male" system

      Which in fairness it was very good at,

    3. Peter H. Coffin

      Re: I'll get my baseball bat

      Were there mobs? Runs on hardware stores for pitchforks? Any confirmed instances of even would-be gumshoe actually putting foot to pavement in search of Tripathi as result of the accusation?

      I'm not asking as to say that citizen action is never wrong, but rather that this kind of action, the armchair analysis, doesn't so much seem to become wrong. Where vigilante mobs seem to happen is where "everybody knows" even beforehand who they think their target is, and are all fired up to *take action*, not all fired up *to critically think about what actually happened*. If anything, I'd expect the opposite effect: vigilante analysis taking some of the pressure away from vigilante action because it's a way to vent the need to DO SOMETHING in a way that's at worst useless. Probably even better than that if the crowd tends to incite people to argue their point rather than run down to the hardware store....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'll get my baseball bat

        While I agree that most people are unlikely to get their torches and head for the old mill, I would still be worried about other aspects.

        As it says in the article: "his family, [...] began to be deluged with comments and abuse."

        The people doing these types of crowdsourcing are probably more likely to take actions online. Harrassing the guy, his family, friends, that guy he met once at a party. But that can still be rather nasty (though not compared to being burned at the stake of course).

        There's a reason why we've set up institutions to handle this, and why we've attempted to make it as unbiased as possible. (Insert rich people get off easy comment of your choice here)

        1. Tom 13

          Re: There's a reason why we've set up institutions to handle this

          In this day those institutions are as likely to engage in witch hunts as the crowd sourcers are. I'll take the crowd sourcers over the official institutions if for no other reason than the crowd sourcers are subject to public criticism and possible legal reprisals.

      2. Aldous

        Re: I'll get my baseball bat

        a young man with a history of depression gets falsely accused of a highly emotive crime to Americans and ends up being found dead (suicide?) and that is better as they did not go out with pitchforks?

        Why do people feel the need to DO SOMETHING when i don't see people volunteering so quickly to help out trawling CCTV for missing persons or mass googling for old folks to find there long lost relative but ZOMGZ TERRORISM TO ARMS!

        In the book (and later tv show) "homicide" David Simon mentions that one of the worst things people can do to a murder investigation is to stick a reward for information as it brings out every crazy and crackpot around. These bombings have done exactly the same, from the Reddit amateur sleuths to the usual retarded "that guys not lost his legs he is an actor just like in sandy hook"

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So... he went missing and killed himself and was then wrongly identified as the Boston bomber or he went missing but was still checking his face book then killed himself because he was wrongly identified as the Boston bomber?

    I'm pretty sure the 15th of March was before the Boston bombing.

    Or is it that ignorant people got the wrong idea and started harrasing the family?

    I don't know what I'm particularly supposed to be interested in... Crowd sourcing named wrong suspect and stupid people took it as gospel? As if the official media/law enforcement/etc and their mindless followers aren't guilty of the same thing at times.

    1. asdf

      not sure but

      Based on the body needing to be identified by dental due to decomposition my guess is he was dead for weeks before the Boston bombing ever happened.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: not sure but

        Bodies on land are 60% consumed by maggots within 7 days (

        Bodies in water only take half the time to decompose.

        So - within 3 1/2 days the body would have been unidentifiable without dental records or some other form of ID.

        Clearly, the death could have happened after the bombing.

        1. asdf

          Re: not sure but

          Ok yes that is true in the best case scenario but considering how many ancient corpses we have found largely intact, conditions obviously vary and greatly affect the rate of decomposition.

        2. Malcolm Weir

          Re: not sure but

          Umm, no, @Andy Prough, decomposition in water does NOT happen twice as fast; its more complicated than that. Look at this: (specifically page 11), which notes that if the water temperature is consistently below 45F/7C there may be no appreciable decomposition for weeks (and incidentally water slows the process, not accelerates it).

          Elsewhere, we find that the water temperature in the bay around Providence tends to "warm rapidly" beginning in April (see e.g., so it is not unreasonable to hypothesize that the water temperature in the Providence River may have been below 7C up until quite recently, and as the water warmed, so decay accelerated, resulting the body coming to the surface and being found.

          I think it perfectly reasonable to consider what might have happened had death occurred after the attacks, but Occam's Razor would suggest that someone unaccountably disappearing for several weeks, then accidentally dieing and be found is less satisfactory an answer compared to the individual falling into the river and remaining submerged until the water temperature rises enough to start decomposition ("foul play is not suspected" suggests accident, not suicide or homicide).

          1. Ralph B

            Re: not sure but

            Nice post. Just a comment on your last line: I don't think suicide would be considered foul play.

            1. Tom 13

              Re: don't think suicide would be considered foul play.

              That was going to be my minor nit with his post.

              Also, given what the family has been through, leaving it at "no foul play is suspected" would be showing a modicum of respect to his family if suicide were suspected. Their wounds have been rolled in enough salt already this week.

          2. sam bo

            Re: not sure but

            ("foul play is not suspected" suggests accident, not suicide or homicide).

            Actually, foul play is not suspected is standard newsreader code for suicide, as the suspected cause of death.

            Respect for surviving family members feelings is the reason given for the reluctance to state the shameful truth.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: not sure but

        I'll add forensic pathologist to the list of things that people commenting at The Register know more about than the specialists then...

        As it happens, without any other form of ID, dental records are your first port of call, decomposed or not.

        1. Tom 13

          Re: dental records are your first port of call,

          No, photographs are the first port of call, particularly given an active missing person investigation. Dental records need somewhere from which records can be pulled. Maybe the UK has a central db for dental records (although I doubt it), the US does not. That they had to go to the records means the body probably was badly decayed.

          1. 100113.1537

            Re: dental records are your first port of call,

            Facial photographs would be the first port of call in a recently deceased body, but not in a drowning or immersion as bloating of the cutaneous tissues removes most visual features. If someone has been declared missing (as in this case) then dental records would be readily available after the initial match had been made by sex and body characteristics (height and weight estimates are very quick even on partially consumed bodies) and dental records would be the quickest confirmation.

            I still doubt that the bombing had any connection with this poor young man's death, but as jumping to conclusions on little evidence is the theme of this thread I think we should avoid doing that.

    2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      If Sunil *was* dead before the date of the bombing, then the Reddit mob identified the wrong person ... a major discrediting of the whole effort either way.

  4. An(other) Droid

    RIP Sunil Tripathi.

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      My thoughts go out to his family. Their statement is calm and loving, so unlike the usual vengeful outpourings we often hear. The world would be better with more people like them.

  5. Johan Bastiaansen
    Thumb Down


    "Several users, twitter users, and other sources had heard him identified as the suspect and believed it to be confirmed. We were mistaken."

    Several sources all confirming because they heard the same original source, is hardly conformation is it? It's just repeating.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Several...

      Your typo hits the nail on the head. There was no confirmation going on, only pure conformation...

    2. Rukario

      Re: Several...

      > Several sources all confirming because they heard the same original source, is hardly conformation is it?

      Conformation is exactly what it is, repeating the same tweetbleat.

      1. Keep Refrigerated

        Re: Several...

        It definitely is conformation that was going on. Just repeating the same stuff, slightly different.

  6. Stevie


    I think what the reddit fiasco shows most clearly that crowdsourcing is piss-poor at processing information as emotional response and opinion swamp the data.

  7. BozNZ

    Better left to the authorities

    ... Because they never fuck up do they.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Better left to the authorities

      No, they just fuck up less.

    2. Grave

      Re: Better left to the authorities

      i dont really follow stuff like this, but if he was killed as a result of this, every single people responsible should be held accountable for murder, or conspiracy to murder. and sentenced accordingly.

      1. Tom 13

        Re: Better left to the authorities

        He wasn't killed as a result of this. Sadly he was dead long before the bombs went off. So there's no reason to go off on a similarly misguided vendetta.

        That doesn't mean people shouldn't take caution after reading about this. Had he been alive he very well could have been killed over it. Or assuming he was clinically depressed, it might have been enough to cause him to commit suicide.

    3. cheveron

      Re: Better left to the authorities

      They screw up all the time, but unlike vigilantes they are accountable for their actions.

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: Better left to the authorities

        They screw up all the time, but unlike vigilantes they are accountable for their actions. …… cheveron Posted Thursday 25th April 2013 22:32 GMT

        Accountable to whom and/or what, and in expectation of what possible sanction for screwing up all the time, cheveron?

        And when things get just too bad and sad and mad, would Vigilant Phorms of CyberIntelAIgent Security and Virtual Protection Move On In to Global Operating Device Command for Control with SMARTR Virtual Machines and Androgynous Robots/Android Mobes with HyperRadioProActive Meme Genes.

        amfM BetaTesting Quantum Communication Control System Command Lines, El Reg ....... nothing to really worry about at all whenever everything is kept truly virtual with total honesty for the Singularity resultant in Full Disclosure ..... for then is one not burdened with the weighty chains that are past secrets too few have enjoyed and too many know absolutely nothing about what IT can do, and what IT is currently doing right now for the future, for you and yours, with every help available with a little help from our friends and bodily delicious soul mates.

        Well, what else do you expect? There are always perks to keep bright sparks and animal instincts on the straight and narrow in whatever confection of passionate interest be the collective norm for sharing pleasures treasures ...... and, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

        And as for such as an all work and no play Jill? Is a right bitch, par for the course? I suppose the only true answer to those questions rests with the ladies who know them and themselves really well.

        It is a strange choice to make though, dull boy or right bitch, whenever from angel to zephyr are always available for firing up and launching at hot targets/susceptible subjects/dodgy systems and collapsed administrations.

        1. Loyal Commenter

          Re: Better left to the authorities

          Accountable to whom and/or what, and in expectation of what possible sanction for screwing up all the time, cheveron?

          In the UK, at least, the police are regulated by the IPCC. Individual officers are subject to the same laws as the rest of us, and have to wear their numbers on their shoulders for identification purposes whilst on duty. Apart from having to wear a uniform that pretty much comprehensively identifies them as police.

          Armed police also have to warn people clearly before opening fire, and face an enquiry if they do so.

      2. Tom 13

        Re: Better left to the authorities

        right, like they were for Fast and Furious, or Waco, or Ruby Ridge, or that poor family in northeastern Pennsylvania that served years in prison for child sexual abuse before it turned out the kids had been coached by the DA.

        In fact, in recent memory the only official I can think of who has been held accountable for his vigilante style rush to judgement was the DA in the Duke lacrosse case.

        1. perlcat
          Black Helicopters

          Re: Better left to the authorities

          Tom 13's got a very good point. There are a LOT of innocent (or at least not proven guilty) people in jail because of faked results. We've descended a long way from Maimonides' ideal of letting a thousand guilty go free rather than imprison one innocent man. With predictable results.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Reminds me of the vigilante group in the UK, was it Birmingham? That went on the hunt when local media revealed the address of a convicted paedophile.

    They assaulted a paediatrician instead.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "the vigilante group"

      No, it wasn't

      "was it Birmingham?"

      No, it wasn't

      "That went on the hunt"

      No, they didn't

      "when local media revealed the address of a convicted paedophile"

      No, they didn't

      "They assaulted a paediatrician instead'

      No, they didn't

      Other than that yes, all correct.

      P.S. You could've just googled it->

      1. Oninoshiko
        Thumb Up

        thumbs down?

        AC here just step by step invalidated every major point of this post, and he gets thumbs downed for it?

        I'm thumbs upping you. Good Job setting the record strait!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        BBC is reliable - official

        Wow somebody citing the BBC on the Reg as a reliable source and getting voted up?

      3. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        I heard the "burned down the paediatrician's surgery" version very recently in a TV or radio broadcast. Or maybe it was burned down their home, or just that they burned down a paediatrician, I'm not sure. That's good enough anyway, isn't it?

        By the way, I must make an appointment with the pederast to see to my ingrowing toenail. Joke.

      4. Pat Att

        I think you're being a little harsh there. The BBC article you quote actually quotes the story appearing in this very organ - "An online magazine, The Register, also says that it was in Portsmouth that "dictionary-starved and enraged mobs attacked a paediatrician".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Why being harsh, the rebuttals were all true.

          The article was stating how various media outlets had got it completely wrong. If you ever come The Register for verified facts you're largely going to be disappointed (or avoid Andrew O's 'articles').

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "[....] users of Reddit, who had set up a /findbostonbombers forum to crowdsource the investigation."

    Yeah, what could POSSIBLY go wrong?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lazy Fat Americans.

    Also, the meme "Lazy Fat Americans" is crap too. The reason Americans are fat happened in the past thirty years with the introduction of GMO'd HFCS, none of these fucking health care / obamacare people address this, because they are FASCISTS!

    Profit for corn syrup industry, drug companies, hospitals

    We were not FAT in the 70's. It is the "new sugar" that is doing it, and I will admit IN CONJUNCTION to a lesser extent of the nanny state where kids don't play like they used to.

    1. Esskay

      Re: Lazy Fat Americans.

      Whilst the US's average intake of sugar being through the roof is no doubt contributing to obesity, it's got nothing to do with HFCS, GMO, or any other TLA's - glucose is glucose, and that's what makes you fat.

      Other contributing factors might be:

      - A complete lack of interest shown by most inhabitants to do any form of excercise

      -A lack of nutritional education

      -A diet incredibly high in processed foods, and extremely high sodium and fat content in foods.

      -The low cost of aforementioned processed, high fat, high sugar foods and beverages, relegating them to the food of the lower classes (who make up most of the population)

      Ironically, nationwide healthcare might actually give some people a wakeup call before it's too late - a low cost, regular check up can let people know how much damage they're doing *before* they need a quadruple heart bypass, or end up being found dead on the bog after trying to pass last night's big mac meal.

      1. veti Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: Lazy Fat Americans.

        While I don't think GMO belongs in this account (the trend was well established long before that became a recognised TLA), HFCS does have a lot to answer for.

        If you haven't gone shopping in a US supermarket, and looked closely at the labels on basically everything, you wouldn't believe how common the stuff is over there. It's not just in drinks and candy and cakes and things that you'd think of as sweet - it's also in bread and yogurt and FSM only knows what else. I've even heard of it being added to honey and other kinds of syrup. And if it's in there (so I've heard, although don't know how true it is), it screws up your eating patterns something fierce.

        Sure, the fat and sodium and processed food do their bit too. But HFCS is probably the biggest *single* contributing factor.

      2. Jaybus

        Re: Lazy Fat Americans.

        Ummm...yes, glucose is glucose.. Of course the HF in HFCS is to indicate that it has a "high fructose" content, meaning enzymatic processing has been performed to break down naturally ocurring sucrose into a fructose-glucose mixture having more fructose than glucose. In other words, HFCS is one of the principle components of the "diet incredibly high in processed foods" you have listed as a contributing factor. The reason for the use of HFCS is quite simple. Liquid HFCS is much easier for robotic food processing machinery to work with thatn granular [sucrose] sugar. The slightest humidity tends to clump granular sugar.

        1. DF118

          Re: Lazy Fat Americans.

          Uh huh, but I fail to see how that invalidates my point. HFCS is still just a symptom of the greater malaise. Crack on about it all you want. If you win that fight it's only a matter of time before the next bete-noir comes along. It's just a pity sugar is so damn tasty*.

          * That was a quick and dirty way of bringing mammalian physiology into the equation.

        2. Michael Strorm Silver badge

          Re: Lazy Fat Americans.

          "The reason for the use of HFCS is quite simple. Liquid HFCS is much easier for robotic food processing machinery to work with thatn granular [sucrose] sugar. The slightest humidity tends to clump granular sugar."

          If that was true, HFCS would be much more popular outside the US than it actually is. (AFAIK, Japan is the only other major market where it's used that significantly- around a quarter of sweetener consumption there).

          The reason for the massive use of HFCS in the US is simple. The corn it's made from is massively subsidised by the US government, meaning the HFCS itself is in effect subsidised and cheaper than it would otherwise be. Sugar tariffs on imports are high, increasing the differential.

          Obviously the sugar tariffs will be different elsewhere, and- while I'll admit to ignorance of the actual legal situation, I'm guessing that trade agreements would prohibit HFCS being sold outside the US (or at least outside the NAFTA region) at the same artificially cheap price that makes it popular there.

      3. Jemma

        Re: Lazy Fat Americans.

        Actually no. what it is at least to a fair degree is epigenetics and it goes like this...

        Your grandparents are doing what they do and granny gets pregnant (insert futurama quote here). All goes well and the kid is born but its during the depression so theres not much food to be had so she & gramps were always hungry.

        Your parent grows up as parents do and everything is again fine apart from an epigenetic switch has been flipped.

        The way the following generation processes sugar is much different, they store fat much more readily and therefore you get the ameri-hutts blobbing round the place like motile hindenburgs (and about as likely to detonate).

        This, coupled with the current American lardoculture gives rise to the Dennis Nedry-esque bloated man blobs that we know and loathe and has done so to a lesser extent in other western countries.

        Another interesting possible epigenetic effect is the 9/11 syndrome. If mother was present at that event at a certain time in her pregnancy, third tri I think from memory - the resultant sproglet is much more likely to suffer from anxiety and changes in related hormone levels than others. Strangely it seems to affect the mothers the same way. Many more third tri pregnant women who had the joys of the full on 9/11 experience reported anxiety, than others in different stages of being knocked up.

        Sometimes science is stranger than fiction...

    2. DF118

      Re: Lazy Fat Americans.

      > It is the "new sugar" that is doing it

      Oh for fuck's sake get a grip. Sugar is sugar, we're just eating more of it. I say "we" because the UK is equally afflicted. The situation isn't helped by several decades of the bullshit "eating fat makes you fat" gospel being preached by those who claim to know, and wholeheartedly adopted by the food industry who quite happily churn out "low fat" (i.e. high sugar) foods by the metric fuckton for us to pour down our throats.

    3. graeme leggett Silver badge

      Re: Lazy Fat Americans.

      High Fructose Corn Syrup is just fructose and glucose. And in a similar ratio to honey (about 55/45)

      Profitably because it makes glucose syrup, which comes cheaply from Corn (Maize) , have a similar taste profile to sugar (sucrose). Sucrose when consumed is readily converted in the acidic stomach into its two components - glucose and fructose - in a 50/50 ratio.

      Making large amounts of saccharide-laden drinks available at cheap prices, and then consuming then is the problem, not the specific carbohydrate profile.

      1. GilbertFilbert

        Re: Lazy Fat Americans.

        "Making large amounts of saccharide-laden drinks available at cheap prices, and then consuming then is the problem, not the specific carbohydrate profile."

        The low price of HFCS makes the former possible, so it is valid to make an objection to this specific carbohydrate

        1. DF118

          Re: Lazy Fat Americans.

          The low price of HFCS compared to... what, exactly? Other sugar? Because sugar is already pretty much the cheapest food commodity you can buy. It's not really a valid objection because it heavily implies HFCS should be the chef blame carrier when it is not. It's just yet another symptom and going on about it as the food devil du jour does nothing more than distract from the real issue, which is that, as a society, we have allowed ourselves to become a bunch of fat lazy fucks beholden to all sorts of corporate interests, far from the least of which being profit-hungry food conglomerates.

          1. tashammer

            Re: Lazy Fat Americans.

            No, it's a good thing that obesity is an international epidemic in the West AND increasingly in the so-called developing countries - the fatter and unhealthier we get the quicker we will die off: Hopefully down to a population of about 10% of what we are now.

            Hmm, greed feeds the need to feed as the need to compulsively feed breeds greed. (i,m getting too clever for my own good, sigh).

          2. Tom 13

            Re: low price of HFCS compared to... what, exactly?

            The price established by the US government at the behest of the Louisiana sugar cartel.

            One more government regulation to which the TEA party objects.

            1. Esskay

              Re: low price of HFCS compared to... what, exactly?

              So you think the cartel will suddenly stop price fixing when government regulation is removed?!

              There's no doubt the government makes decisions in the interest of the people lining their pockets, but at least there's a modicum of accountability if people make enough noise. Without that regulation in place, the cartels will be able to do whatever they want, and set prices as high as they want - thanks to the TEA party.

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. DF118

      Re: Spec Ops DISASTER?

      Whereas your comment seems highly speculative and unhelpful. Ironic given the subject matter of the story at hand, but par for the course with you.

  12. Mark Simon

    This is why …

    … a proper legal system includes the presumption of innocence, and must give the benefit of the doubt to the accused, no matter how “obvious” his guilt appears. That the crime is more horrific is no excuse; indeed, it makes it more important to nail the true culprit rather than take the easy option of settling on the first likely suspect.

    This can be frustrating, and appear too easy on the guilty party, but what is the point of justice if it doesn’t protect the innocent?

    The problem with crowd sourcing, and that includes gung-ho media reports, is that can bypass all the legal procedures developed to minimise this.

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: This is why …

      However, the police (with some justification) and the court system (with some lesser justification) have become so untrustworthy in the minds of the masses that due process, Rule of Law, and presumption of innocence beyond all reasonable doubt are simply euphemisms for "cover-up" to many people. Allegations are all that is needed to ruin a life* - that isn't new, but the effect propagates more easily through the use of modern communications.

      *I'm not referring to Sunil here - however, it could just as easily have been a total innocent that was fingered by the mob (literal meaning, not Mafia).

  13. zanto

    safety mechanism

    something like a captcha is required if the user is yank. but instead of the twisted alpha-numerals, it should be a question on geography or current affairs.

    something like:

    is the earth round?

    if english is the language spoken in America, what language is spoken in England?

    who is the president of England? (trick questions allowed)

    do french fries come from France?

    1. Daniel B.


      - Do you watch Fox News (and believe the stuff they show)?

      - Is Obama a secret Muslim/Communist/whatever?

      - Do you think the theory of Evolution is incorrect?

      That should shave away a lot of loons. Even filtering out posts for "MSM", "Obamacare" and similar gems would keep 'em at bay.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    " set up a /findbostonbombers forum to crowdsource the investigation "

    Vigilantism, too many hotheads and no experience, not a good mix. Leave the sluething to those who have detachment and experience in solving crime.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Give Reddit a fine.

    Why is Reddit not given a hefty fine for this?

    Although it is its users that post the info, there are moderators that didn't do their job. If crowdsourced vigilantism should AT ALL be legal, then it has to be regulated with rules like it being illegal to post some 'suspects' identifying info.

    In most places it is illegal for a newspaper to do it (defamation of character), it should be no different for online media like Reddit.

    We have a police and court system to investigate and convict. The police is trained to investigate WITH DISGRESSION, a bunch of juvenile redditors are NOT and this is the result.

    I hope his family sues the fuck out of Reddit.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Give Reddit a fine.

      Well, perhaps in future the local investigating authorities will consider openly embedding one of their own as a 'moderator'. After events such as the Boston bombing, police forces always appeal to the public for any leads or sightings, and sites like Reddit have structures that can aid in that- it seems that they just needed a little guidance.

      Similarly, file hosting sites have an infrastructure that can aid investigations, as people can upload any video footage they took of/around an incident for the benefit of official investigators.

      Just an idea. Thoughts?

  16. Peter Galbavy
    Thumb Down

    burn the witch

    "Crowdsourcing" eh?

    No, it's hiding a vendetta in a crowd. Slightly different thing. And it's been going on probably as long as societies have existed and will continue to do so.

  17. Not Fred31


    "Tripathi's case showed the dangers of crowdsourcing investigations of this type, "

    No shit, sherlock!

  18. Loyal Commenter

    I hope that every single idiot who harassed his family or friends as a result of such misinformation gets prosecuted under the full force of the law. Sadly, I suspect that there are few laws applicable to punishing such unpleasant portions of society, and if there are they are probably poorly enforced, leaving civil action as the only recourse for the victims.

  19. Melzeebub92

    Lack of facts

    The issue that the redditors had was that they did not see a picture of the men who were everntually taken in. The pictures with the arrested men were not released until the day they were arrested.

    Maybe if they had been shown the pictures involving those men perhaps they would have flagged them. So I think it is important to remember that you can only discover what is there not what isn't.

  20. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Rumour Mill

    "Crowdsourcing" information about current events is no more than chasing after rumours. And if they weren't chasing round the town with pitchforks etc. looking for the guy, well that might be more to do with what kind of person sits in front of a screen looking for news on Reddit.......

  21. Jemma

    It constantly amazes me...

    How a nation filled to the brim with total and utter fsckwits and automatic weapons hasn't blown itself out of existence years ago!

    I mean seriously, the fsb tell you he's a terrorist and what do you do? Tell him not to be a naughty boy (and btw theres some interesting plastic stuff in that cupboard, no, the one next to it....) and leave him to simmer for a couple of years. UK has Dunblane and anything more dangerous than a kids longbow is banned instantaneously - some kid does a Joachim Pieper on 5 year olds, and the US keeps the guns and gives the little sweeties body armour and the teachers even more guns. The only thing stupider is showing TW: Children of Earth and then wondering why every stressed parent in BBC coverage are doing 'peter capaldis' left right and abandoned quarries...

    Almost as bright as the farmer in the UK who sold a half ton of ammonium nitrate to a total stranger. Can you guess what happened yet?

    As to the people who say hounding someone cant cause a suicide - two names off the top of my head - Tempest Smith & Lucy Meadows, Im sure I could find many more. Still so damn sure now?

    Commiserations to the family but I'll tell you this now I wouldnt want to be one of the reddidiots right now...

    And FYI for british citizens - should you be getting the idea into your head to do something similar causing by harassment or other means someones suicide is an offense under the 1961 suicide act. I dont know the American legal position on it.

    Kind of unrelated. IF YOU CANT EVEN MANAGE COHERENT ENGLISH dont berate people for their opinions, it just makes you look like an ill educated 12 year old who needs their Ritalin increased.

  22. Colin Miller


    Shouldn't you blank out the faces of the two friends in the photo?

  23. Dropper

    Lazy Reporters

    One of the problems this issue highlighted was the fact that too much of the News media does pretty much nothing to verify information. You expect that from tabloids and the like, but when mainstream news networks and actual newspapers start skimping on little things like verifying sources or verifying the credentials of so-called experts, you run into little things like accusing completely innocent people of terrorism.

    And sure, while it's bad that a bunch of twitter/reddit dweebs decided they can identify people who plant bombs based on the colour of their hats, suspiciously carrying a backpack to an all-day event or surreptitiously not looking at a 3-4 hour race for a minute or two.. the worst part is several "news" organisations decided this idle speculation amounted to proof that two suspects had been identified by the police and FBI. Oh I know several people claimed to have heard the names on police scanners.. so of course there's no choice but to use the general rule "if someone says something on the internet that makes it true". Hardly anyone these days looks to self-grandiose themselves on a twitter twat feed or forum.

    Looking at the other junk these people submitted.. clues that someone might be a terrorist apparently includes running away from explosions, walking down a street lined with shops in groups of one or more, wearing red, wearing black, listening to an iPod, not listening to an iPod.. and who knows. Perhaps owning a dog, eating fish on Fridays or carrying a phone in your right trouser pocket is also suspect.

  24. MrEee
    Thumb Up

    Crowd-sourced Investigation?

    Wasn't that just called a lynch mob in the fine days of yore? Of course, 'crowd-sourced investigation' sounds much more technically savvy and I'm sure will lead to more accurate mob justice.

  25. Ken Darling

    Identify yourself

    "We cannot begin to know what you're going through and for that we are truly sorry."

    Show your remorse by identifying yourself. Perhaps than you may have a better idea of what a which-hunt feels like.

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