“Reddit Bans Subreddit “Find Navy Yard Shooters’” from CBS DC is about the crowdsourcing for criminal investigation on social media.
I am a Redditor. I love the social media site, Reddit, because I can find some interesting information over there. I can also share what I think good website to people. Reddit is also a place for people to exchange information easily. However, sometimes the communication on Reddit can go too far.
Washington Navy Yard Shooting shocked many people on Monday. In response to the shooting, a reddit user created a community forum, named “Find Navy Yard Shooters”. The group dedicated to identifying the gunman in the Washington Navy Yard shooting, but it was banned by the administrator shortly after it went online.
The forum was created around 1.15pm on Monday, but it was banned around 3.15pm. It went offline although the reddit user created this forum wrote the description, “We can do it, Reddit. Let’s look for clues about who the perps are, and post them. Any thing goes but there’s one rule: NO PERSONAL INFORMATION ABOUT LEADS UNLESS YOU’RE REALLY SURE.”
Victoria Taylor, Reddit spokeswoman, claimed that the community violated the rules of using Reddit as a reason for the ban. “We don’t allow the posting of person information under circumstances,” Taylor explained to Mashable in an email. She added, no personal information was shared in that forum, and the discussion forum was created by a “troll account”.
Interestingly, the subreddit’s creator was not too upset about the action from Reddit. “I’m glad Reddit and redditors seem to have learned a lesson,” the subreddit creator replied Mashable in an email.
So, what is “a lesson”? During the Boston Marathon bombings in April 2013, a Reddit post that spread across the internet convinced thousands that a student was suspect in the bombings. In fact, anyone could be contributors and put themselves into investigation. Reddit came under heavy criticism for its role in looking for the suspect because of the misleading and misguided information. In the aftermath of the members’ incorrect identification, Reddit publicly apologized for such activities that “fueled online witch hunts and dangerous speculation which spiraled into very negative consequences for innocent parties.”
As the authorities is searching for the potential suspect in Washing Navy Yard shooting, social media can be a site for criminal investigations. Crowdsourcing amateur investigations via social media can go wrong easily. People can easily get it wrong the first try, as evidenced by the innocent persons first identified in Boston bombings. Those actions can also invade the privacy of those wrongly accused.
Social media is powerful, and it can help misinformation spread just as quickly as the truth.
Reddit seems recognize such issue at this time.