The Internet’s Shameful False ID


Alex Pareene in Salon:

Yesterday, a Reddit user posted a new, startlingly clear image of the aftermath of the explosion, that shows, on the far left, what looks very much like one of the FBI’s suspects fleeing the scene. After Philip Bump, an Atlantic Wire writer and Photoshop expert,explained why he believed the image was genuine the New York Times confirmed the photo’s authenticity.

So: The Internet actually found a new, much clearer photo of one of the FBI’s suspects. Amazing! It could’ve taken ages, before the Internet, for this evidence to surface and be sent to law enforcement. Immediately after the Internet did this admirable thing, of course, it took it to a dark and irresponsible place.

Remember how thousands of Reddit users and 4chan people spent the days after the bombing combing through every available photo and frame of video of the site of the bombings, searching for the perpetrators, and they found a bunch of guys with backpacks— so many guys they made a spreadsheet! — and (inadvertently) allowed the New York Post to identify, on the front page, two innocent people as the bombers? And remember how when the FBI released images of the actual suspects, neither of them had been spotted by Reddit or 4Chan or any other online sleuth? Well, armed with this new, clearer photo, and giddy from having uncovered it, the message board investigative geniuses then determined that “suspect two” was a missing college student.

Sunil Tripathi is a Brown University student from Pennsylvania who has been missing since March 16. On that day, surveillance cameras picked him up leaving his Providence, R.I., apartment. He left behind his computer, wallet and phone. He hasn’t been seen since.