Feeds

Student falsely IDed by Reddit as Boston bomber found dead

Online lynch mob unlikely to be responsible

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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 forever, and we hope it will change yours too," they said on a Facebook page. "Take care of one another. Be gentle, be compassionate. Be open to letting someone in when it is you who is faltering. Lend your hand. We need it. The world needs it."

Tripathi, who was reported to have suffered from depression, went missing on March 15 – over a month before the bombings that left three people dead and 264 wounded. After the FBI released photographs of their suspects, he was wrongly identified as one of them by users of Reddit, who had set up a /findbostonbombers forum to crowdsource the investigation.

Several members claimed to have heard Tripathi's name mentioned on police scanners and his family, who had been running an intensive online campaign to try and find their missing son, began to be deluged with comments and abuse. The /findbostonbombers forum moderator apologized to the family after the current suspects were detained and removed the forum from public view.

"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," the moderator said in the apology.

"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."

Laura Lague, spokeswoman for the Providence police, told the Boston Globe that Tripathi's body had been spotted in the river by a Brown university rowing coach on Tuesday and that it had been identified by dental records, suggesting a long immersion. Foul play was not a factor, she confirmed.

Tripathi's case showed the dangers of crowdsourcing investigations of this type, particularly when some of the more excitable sections of the media seem willing to accept such findings as "evidence." As this hack has pointed out, crowdsourcing has great promise in processing large amounts of information, but this kind of stuff is best left to the authorities until that's sorted out. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
US court SHUTS DOWN 'scammers posing as Microsoft, Facebook support staff'
Netizens allegedly duped into paying for bogus tech advice
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
Verizon bankrolls tech news site, bans tech's biggest stories
No agenda here. Just don't ever mention Net neutrality or spying, ok?
NATO declares WAR on Google Glass, mounts attack alongside MPAA
Yes, the National Association of Theater Owners is quite upset
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Managing SSL certificates with ease
The lack of operational efficiencies and compliance pitfalls associated with poor SSL certificate management, and how the right SSL certificate management tool can help.