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Friday, April 19, 2013

Reddit Users wrongly identifies missing Brown University Student as one of two Boston Bombing Suspects

Photo Credit - FBI Missing Notification for
Brown Student Sunil Tripathi
The social media site is similar to an exclusive club. In order to have a story placed on a blog or news resource receive maximum promotion, one must be a part of Reddit's version of high school "cliques" were the like minded arrow up or down the article best on preference.

On the late evening hours of April 18th, Reddit's user promotion based system had what would best be described as a total fail moment, as many fans of the site "rushed to judgement" to wrongly identify a missing Brown University student as one of the two "suspects" in the Boston Marathon bombing case. 

Amid the confusion in  Watertown, Massachusetts last night, one of the two bombing suspects has been properly identified as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, which Reddit users and the site misidentified the as Sunil Tripathi, who disappeared March 16.

Tripathi became the focus of misplaced crowd speculation after users of Reddit identified him as the "white hat" suspect. Additionally, erroneous reports cited on Twitter that Tripathi's name was being used by police on police scanners. Sadly, relatives of the missing student spent hours last night living through a unnecessary nightmare.

The moderator of the "FindBostonBombers" on Reddit put out this statement, apologizing for the misidentification:

"I'd like to extend the deepest apologies to the family of Sunil Tripathi for any part we may have had in relaying what has turned out to be faulty information. We cannot begin to know what you're going through and for that we are truly sorry. Several users, twitter users, and other sources had heard him identified as the suspect and believed it to be confirmed. We were mistaken," they opined. 

This event shows exactly why the no personal information until confirmation rule is in place. Out of respect for Tripathi and his family, I ask that users here please remove any and all links about him. Thank you."

Tripathi's family put a statement on Facebook clarifying their missing son was not one of the bombing suspects and thanked those in Social Media who have rallied to for support.

"A tremendous and painful amount of attention has been cast on our beloved Sunil Tripathi in the past twelve hours. We have known unequivocally all along that neither individual suspected as responsible for the Boston Marathon bombings was Sunil", a Tripathi family member wrote.

We are grateful to all of you who have followed us on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit—supporting us over the recent hours. Now more than ever our greatest strength comes from your enduring support. We thank all of you who have reached out to our family and ask that you continue to raise awareness and to help us find our gentle, loving, and thoughtful Sunil."

A larger question surrounds if so-called citizen journalism promotion sites like Reddit will learn a lesson not rush to launch false actualization articles, prior to sending another innocent family thought unnecessary harm.

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