Sources: Pew Internet & American Life Project, first reddit survey July 2013; Reddit, a beginner’s guide: http://mashable.com/2012/06/06/reddit-for-beginners/
Reddit, Twitter & Sunil Tripathi
Reddit, Twitter & Sunil Tripathi
Sources: Crowd-Sourcing A Smear, by
Jay Caspian King, New York Times
Magazine; Pew Internet & American Life
Project,; Reddit, a beginner’s guide:
• Sunil Tripathi, a Boston University student suffering
from depression,has been missing since March. His
family is working with the FBI to find him. They have
set up a Facebook page called “Help Us Find Sunil
• April 15: Two bombs go off at the Boston Marathon at
2:49 p.m. eastern, killing four people including an 8-
• April 18, 5 p.m.: The FBI releases grainy photographs of
Tripathi + Tsarnaev = ?
• Within minutes, a Reddit user posted side-by-
side pictures comparing Sunil’s appearance
with that of DzhokharTsarnaev, the man later
identified one of the bombers. The user also
speculates about the reasons
• By 8 p.m., angry messages begin to appear on
the Facebook page.
• At 8:15 p.m., Ravi Tripathi, Sunil’s older brother,
gets a call from an ABC News reporter in New
York. She asks if Sunil had been seen in Boston
and if Ravi had seen the F.B.I. photos of Suspect
• Threatening Facebookmessages increase, so the
family checked in with their F.B.I contact in
Providence. He assured them that no one
believed Sunil was Suspect No. 2.
Tweeters jump in
• At about 11 p.m., the family closes the
Facebook page so that no more messages
could come in.
• Sasha Stone, who runs an inside-Hollywood
web site called Awards Daily, tweets at 10:56
p.m., “I’m sure by now the @fbipressoffice is
looking into this dude,” with a link to
theTripathi family’s Facebookpage.
Journalists, etc., jump in
• Seven seconds later, she tweets: “Seconds
after I sent that tweet the page is gone off
Facebook. If you can cache it…”
• Erik Malinowski, a senior sportswriter at
BuzzFeed, tweets: “FYI: A Facebook group
dedicated to finding Sunil Tripathi, the missing
Brown student, was deleted this evening.”
Speculation as fact
• Hilton and roughly 300 others retweet the
Malinowski post. Hilton has more than six million
• Twitter explodes with speculation that Sunil must
be Suspect No. 2. Otherwise, why would the
family have taken the FB page down?
• At 2:43 a.m., a Twitter user named Greg Hughes,
No facts at all
• Hughes, a self-appointed “reporter,” tweets: “BPD
scanner has identified the names. Suspect 1:
Mike Mulugeta Suspect 2: Sunil Tripathi.”
• Seven minutes later, Kevin Galliford, a journalist
for a TV station in Hartfort, Conn., tweets the
same incorrect information. In minutes, it’s
retweeted more than 1,000 times.
BuzzFeed strikes again
• Andrew Kaczynski, a journalist at BuzzFeed, sends
out the misinformation to his 90,000 followers
and this: “Wow Reddit was right about the
missing Brown student per the police scanner.
Suspect identified as Sunil Tripathi.”
• At 2:57 a.m., Luke Russert, a reporter for NBC
News and son of the late Tim Russert, tweets a
photo of Tsarnaev with this: “This pickinda feeds
Sunil Tripathi theory.”
Internet Fate Sealed
• @YourAnonNews, a Twitter news fede connected
to the Hacker collective Anonymous,
tweetsTripathi’sname to its hundreds of
thousands of followers.
• By now, many believe that Sunil Tripathi is
Suspect No. 2.
• On April 23, a body was pulled out of the
Providence River. It was Sunil Tripathi. He had
been missing since March 16.
What is Reddit?
• Reddit calls itself the “front page of the
• Users submit texts, links, photos and videos
and are organized into sub-groups on a variety
• The popularity and prominence of material on
the site is determined by votes by users.
• Six percent of online adults are Reddit users,
according to a July nationally representative
survey by the Pew Internet & American Life
• Some 15 percent of male internet users ages 18-
29 say they use reddit, compared with 5 percent
of women in the same age range, and 8 percent
of men ages 30-49, the survey found.
• Reddit prides itself on being self-correcting.
What does this mean? Your homework is to
learn about Reddit. Read the Pew study & the
Mashable site info. Check out Reddit itself.
Write a blog post explaining, in detail, what
Reddit has done to remedy its error. What
about the people who tweeted? Are these
remedies enough? If not, what else do you
suggest? Cite your sources. Due next class.