Is this modernized Witch Hunt, Vigilante justice or crowd sourcing?
Acknowledging that “the range of suspects and motives remains wide open,” the FBI on Tuesday appealed to the public for help in solving the Boston Marathon bombing.
Users of the social-news site Reddit are, in their own way, doing exactly what authorities asked. On a subreddit called findbostonbombers, a group of amateur sleuths is sharing theories and passing around publicly available crowd shots. At this stage, Redditors have latched on to images of two different middle-aged men in the marathon crowd, each of whom appears to be holding a backpack with stripes on the straps. Why are those stripes relevant? They think the markings look similar to those in an FBI picture of a destroyed backpack found at the scene of one of the explosions. Authorities believe that backpack could have held one of the explosive-filled pressure cookers used in the bombing.
In the court of Reddit opinion, those stripes are enough to cast suspicion on a couple of to-this-point-anonymous men, one of whom the site’s users have dubbed “Blue Robe Guy.” (The other man Redditors have homed in on does not yet have a nickname.) Never mind that the guy’s outerwear more closely resembles a fleece jacket—a robe sounds more sinister, right? In any case, beyond the backpack markings, the supporting evidence seems a little thin. Some Redditors note that Blue Robe Guy appears to be gripping his pack tightly and “trying to look nonchalant.” Another adds that he “fits the profile of the kind of person I think did this.” Well then!