Reddit has issued a formal apology for the conversations on its platform last week that wrongly implicated the missing Brown University student Sunil Tripathi as they tracked the manhunt for the two Boston bombing suspects caught on videotape.
On Reddit and on Twitter, users following the manhunt by listening in to police scanners reported that the police had mentioned Tripathi and Mike Mulugeta in connection with the videotaped suspects, who turned out to have been Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
“We have apologized privately to the family of missing college student Sunil Tripathi, as have various users and moderators. We want to take this opportunity to apologize publicly for the pain they have had to endure,” wrote Erik Martin in a blog post.
Martin called on users to “show good judgement and solidarity,” and hoped that the website, now owned by Conde Nast, would learn “to be sensitive of its power” as one of the most vibrant remaining platforms for direct engagement between users.
“One of the greatest strengths of decentralized, self-organizing groups is the ability to quickly incorporate feedback and adapt. Reddit was born in the Boston area (Medford, MA, to be precise). After this week, which showed the best and worst of Reddit’s potential, we hope that Boston will also be where Reddit learns to be sensitive of its own power,” Martin wrote.
Reddit had previously banned the posting of their own or others’ personal information on the site to discourage online vigilanteism. The policy was specifically designed to prevent users who disagree with a poster from seeking him or her out in real life.
“We hoped that the crowdsourced search for new information would not spark exactly this type of witch hunt. We were wrong,” Martin said.