While the world waits for the FBI to identify and arrest suspect(s) in the Boston marathon bombings, people are attempting to “crowdsource” the identify of “suspects” through online information sharing and analysis of crowd photos.
A new section of the popular online community Reddit, for example, has been created that is called “FINDBOSTONBOMBERS.” This “subreddit” features links and comments by Reddit users who are exchanging the latest information, links, and theories about the bombings.
One of the Reddit users linked to some annotated photos and videos, which have been uploaded to a site called imgur, in a gallery titled “4Chan ThinkTank.” The latter is a reference to a popular web forum called 4Chan.
The photos and videos in the gallery have no time stamps, but they appear to show crowds around the finish line at the Boston Marathon before the bombs went off.
The annotations on the photos focus on a couple of people in the crowd, highlighting, among other things, a backpack that appears to match pictures of a shredded backpack released by the FBI, as well as shapes in the backpack that might represent hidden bombs. The annotations describe these people as “suspect 1” and “suspect 2,” and they highlight other people in the crowd as well.
Buzzfeed has identified and interviewed the Reddit user who created the FINDBOSTONBOMBERS subreddit. He calls himself Oops777 and is a 23-year old poker player from England.
Importantly, we know nothing about the source of the Imgur photos or who uploaded them or why. The photos themselves may be doctored or entirely fake. The annotations, meanwhile, may also unfairly focus attention on people who had absolutely nothing to do with the bombings.
We just find this phenomenon of crowdsourced online analysis fascinating–the modern equivalent of amateur analysis of the “Zapruder” film of the Kennedy assassination.