The Navy Yard shooting subreddit, which was both a parody and a Reddit attempt to “help” again in the wake of national tragedy, was not allowed to do its investigative thing — and the site’s TPTB rapidly shut down attempts to find the Navy Yard shooter.
You may recall that, after the Boston bombing, Reddit leapt into action to create their own crack case of civilian neckbeards hoping to snag the person or persons responsible for the carnage at the Boston Marathon and may have done the same for the Navy Yard shooting.
The problem? Crowdsourced investigations involve crowds, and Reddit is an enthusiastic one. Not only did the site first incorrectly identify the possible suspect seen as missing student Sunil Tripathi — initially giving false hope he remained living to his family as well as causing painful harassment — it also managed to find the Tsarnaev brothers in theory — before the FBI was ready to move on the young men and giving the pair a possible jump.
We all know what happened next. Tripathi was dead all along, and the Tsarnaev capture resulted in an expensive and destructive day-long lockdown of Boston. Reddit was deeply chastised for essentially complication and potentially compromising the investigation — a circumstance that showed us that the issue was not even really Reddit, so much as that we now have the capability to do this using social media.
At the time, Reddit GM Erik Martin, or u/hueypriest, said:
“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.”
Mashable spoke to what appears to be the troll account responsible for the Navy Yard shooting subreddit, u/uglyredditors. He or she sniffed:
“I started the [Find Navy Yard Shooters] subreddit as a reaction to and a parody of the FindBostonBombers subreddit. I’m glad Reddit and redditors seem to have learned a lesson.”
The Navy Yard shooting killed 13 people, with the shooter identified as among the dead. And without Reddit’s help, authorities are investigating the possibility of accomplices.