Reddit apologizes for falsely accusing student of bombings

Brown University student Sunil Tripathi is still missing

Topics: GlobalPost, Reddit, Sunil Tripathi, Boston Marathon, Boston Bombings,

Reddit apologizes for falsely accusing student of bombings (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

Global Post Reddit was responsible for one of the biggest news blunders of the Boston Marathon man hunt after users circulated the name of an innocent missing student as connected to the bombings.

Now, redditors along with the site’s leadership, posted an apology to the family of  still-missing Brown University student, Sunil Tripathi.

“We want to take this opportunity to apologize publicly for the pain they have had to endure,” the statement said.

“We hope that this painful event will be channeled into something positive and the increased awareness will lead to Sunil’s quick and safe return home.”

Reddit’s “findthebostonbombers” thread drew a lot of criticism for jumping to conclusions after hearing fragments of information on a police scanner.

As the Atlantic reported, a reddit user who was a former classmate of Tripathi’s said she thought she saw him in surveillance footage from the scene of the bombing.

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The name, along with another innocent person, Mike Mulugeta, was passed around Reddit and Twitter until early Friday morning.

Reddit’s statement admitted that this type of crowdsourcing information left it open to becoming a type of “witch hunt”.

“A few years ago, reddit enacted a policy to not allow personal information on the site. This was because “let’s find out who this is” events frequently result in witch hunts, often incorrectly identifying innocent suspects and disrupting or ruining their lives. We hoped that the crowdsourced search for new information would not spark exactly this type of witch hunt. We were wrong. 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.”

Sunil’s sister, Sangeeta Tripathi, told NBC News that Reddit was “one of the more ugly and disgusting places that had a lot of traffic” relating to her brother.

Erik Martin, the general manager of Reddit, sent a private email to the family of Sunil Tripathi on Friday to apologize.

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