Photos From Boston Bombings Cause Online Search of Suspects

After the initial shock of Monday's bombing at the Boston Marathon social media on the internet ran non-stop to try to help find the suspects responsible. The only problem, they pointed to the wrong people. Redditors have been crowd-sourcing and deconstructing photos that the FBI has released and cross referencing them to photos found on social media sites.


One of the photos found its way onto the cover of The New York Post, which shows two men that were believed to be connected with the bombings. In reality the two men turned out to be a local high school athletic coach and one of his students that were innocently watching the race.  I have seen countless memes and flyers posted on Facebook (example above) with photos of different people pin-pointing them as a suspect.


Anthony De Rosa reported, the crowdsourced detective work should have been treated with a grain of salt. "Since this work is being done over the internet, it's not being done in a professional capacity," said De Rosa. "There is potential for people photoshopping these images, there is potential for people having a cause, or an activist trying to push the investigation in a certain direction, whether its domestic or foreign. It's being done messy and in real time, and done by amateurs, so its interesting to look at, but you have to keep those things in mind, when you're looking at what conclusions they are coming to." - The

With photo and video technology readily available to the immediate and general public do you think this will help law enforcement or hinder them in their investigation of these horrific attacks with people trying to take the investigation into their own hands?

VIA: The & Reuters TV

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Very interesting article, I find it encouraging that people who have no connection aside from being human are making an effort to find the perpetrators of these heinous acts. However I do find it discouraging, though not hard to believe, that people would take this story and spin it in their own "political" direction. Maybe some day we can have a law along the lines of hindering a police investigation for these dopes and it will detract the majority of them.

Rebecca Britt's picture

I totally agree with everything you just said. *kudos*

The crowd sourced photos of the bombing scene might actually be more compelling in terms of a news story than the bombing itself. They prove that Marshall McLuhan was right when he said that electronic technology is truly de-centralizing. Social media technology can NEVER be controlled by any central government and "official" stories quickly break down under the scrutiny of an informed public armed with electronic technology.

In the future, Big Brother doesn't watch the people. The PEOPLE watch Big Brother!

Keith Persall's picture

No the people watch the people and we become our own big brother

When people watch each other it's called a "community." A community is the opposite of a Big Brother tyranny.

When people watch other people its called "StaSi"(Federal Security) like in East germany, and its only called "community" by their opressors. If people start watching other peoples movements, theres no place for trust or unity. just douchbacks taking down if you were parking on the wrong spot or if you were meeting "suspicious" Men, or if you were behaving "strangely" near the playground.
Its a difference to look AFTER other people, but theres no thread of overdoing.

You're referring to the "snitch" type of culture that accompanies oppression. That situation is bad and is exactly why citizen media (crowd sourcing etc) are necessary to keep government in check so that it never gets powerful enough to become a tyranny in the first place.

Spy Black's picture

"Snitch"-type culture is exactly what is going on in America. People are kept paranoid and told to "report any suspicious activity". But one person's suspicion is another person's racism.

It was a falls flag attack, proof is all over the place, online, even mainstream can't deny it this time.

This is bad, people died, I'm very sad. But the authorities/police on
one hand is arresting and harassing and scaring peoples making photos
videos in the street, and now, on the other hand, is using before
mentioned people audio-video material to find whatever they want? The
police (read the government, the state) should encourage all the people
to make all the time, almost non-stop pictures and video of our planet,
our cities, of the people, but we still having all the rights of that a/v
material, and the right to posted everywhere we want, in print and
online, and maybe, in the future this will be of any help, and
this way we will be happier, and bomb-free (please excuse my bad english, I'm
not a native speaker)

In my opinion it makes big "information noise". People with no technical background are trying to make a speculations and point fingers. It is good that there are so many pictures FBI can analyze and investigate. Releasing the pictures by FBI is a good move to find someone who may have specific information related to the bombing. But all the pointing suspects by people with no life is just pathetic and doesn't help investigation at all.
BTW while media and most people are focused on the bombing, House of Reps just passed CISPA.
If it will go thru the Senate there will be no privacy in the internet.

That security guard guy Richard Jewell of the Atlanta Olympics bombing incident probably made millions of dollars in out-of-court settlements because he was incorrectly fingered as a "suspect". If the American authorities arrest anybody mistakenly, it could wind up being a big financial windfall and you can bet the defamation and libel lawyers are eagerly watching the news and social media outlets too!

Keith Persall's picture

Anyone actually consider that this type of information i.e.: the break down of components to the point of identifying where to source the part could actually make creating something similar by people who wouldn't normally have access to it a lot easier...

I hope the NY Post gets sued for defamation of character for what they printed...they made a couple of high school students pretty miserable.
The media is the biggest issue the race to "get the story", they're no better than reading the Enquirer rag in the supermarket lines. They print biased articles all the time, print fake information, print photoshopped photos to make their biases work. There is no integrity in journalism any more, and old journalists have said this a lot of times about the young "journalists" nowadays.

But at least they got the 3rd "suspects" right. I saw the news and didn't believe them again...too many times crying "wolf". Thought I'd wake up this morning w/ some more college students claiming they were innocent, but the suspects decided to go out w/ a bang instead...

This is a good example of why people should do the job they are trained for and leave everything else to those who should be doing it.