Reddit bans subreddit dedicated to finding the Navy Yard shooters

September 16, 2013

(reddit.com)

A section for finding the Navy Yard shooters on the popular online community reddit has been banned. The shooting at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday morning left at least 12, including a gunman dead. But police say there may be another suspect at large, and they “have reason to believe” this individual was involved in shootings.

Reddit became a gathering place for amateur sleuthing in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing earlier this year, fueling what some reports called "online witch hunts" that resulted in some people being falsely identified as the bomber. One such identification claimed Sunil Tripathi, a 22-year-old Brown University student who had gone missing the previous month, was one of the bombers. Tripathi's body was later discovered near Providence, R.I.

Reddit later apologized for its role in enabling the posts, citing its long-held rules against posting personal information on the site. "We hoped that the crowdsourced search for new information would not spark exactly this type of witch hunt. We were wrong," said reddit general manager Erik Martin at the time. "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."

Reddit didn't immediately respond to our request for comment.

Update: Erik Martin from reddit tells us: "We banned it because it violated site rules by encouraging the posting of personal information. The quote from the side bar that subreddit that was banned said 'no personal information about leads unless you are really sure.' We do not allow the posting of personal information under any circumstances."

Andrea Peterson covers technology policy for The Washington Post, with an emphasis on cybersecurity, consumer privacy, transparency, surveillance and open government.
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