Edit: A relevant comment from a journalist regarding the situation: http://www.reddit.com/r/blog/comments/1cvb9b/reflections_on_...
As a member of the reddit community, I was really disappointed with the
Sunil Tripathi debacle. D'you know why his name wasn't widespread in
the press as a suspect? Because generally we like to ask police for
confirmation on a suspect name before publishing it.
If reddit users want to act like journalists, they should follow the same
procedures. You're not special just because it's "the internet"
While no one should imply that every reddit user is responsible, a thought should be spared as to whether or not false accusations and mob hunts must be a fundamental part of social news. If so, it is worth spending the time asking ourselves how we can avoid it in the future; and if they are unavoidable, how we can limit the damage they cause (or, in the extreme case, if we even want to encourage the continued existence of social news sites like Reddit if the effects are judged too extreme).
Also, as mentioned elsewhere, the "media" didn't have all that much to do with this particular fiasco.
Yeah, the media screwed up by reporting media but if I jump in the lion's cage at the zoo I'm not going to blame the lion if I get eaten.
I'm sure there were lots of people getting together in the "real world" and discussing those events and speculating.
I'm not sure there's anything wrong with people speculating about events, though it depends on how they do it and how they present their speculations and what they do on the basis of their speculations.
Of course if the Nazi party hadn't existed at all, those soldiers wouldn't have had any reason to do it. So you can't completely absolve Reddit from blame. But really the fact that anyone used a reddit forum to report or investigate to begin with is laughable. That would be like going to Somethingawful forums for dating advice.
I will never understand why it's acceptable to talk about the actions of a small percentage of a user base as if they represent the entire group.
Because if the group tolerates it, and is known to do that kind of thing frequently, they DO represent it.
Or is it more accurate to say "the subreddit /r/findthebostonbombers of the Reddit web site did 'X'"?
I would argue for the latter. Granted, the mainstream media is unlikely to make the distinction or care, but it's an important difference.