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On April 15, 2013 there was a tragic bombing at the Boston Marathon. Almost instantly pictures and videos of "suspects" started to appear on the web. Was this a good thing? Do you have concerns?
Crowdsourcing suspects is both a powerful and dangerous idea
Apr 27, 2013 Ted C3

Crowdsourcing in the general sense has been a huge net gain for humanity, resulting in multitudes of projects (such as Wikipedia and OpenStreetMap) that have improved our lives. Criminal crowdsourcing campaigns however have produced a mixture of positive and negative results. Seattle police tweet information to identify stolen cars, and other law enforcement agencies have posted information on criminal activity online to solicit the public's assistance in identifying criminals.

Alternatively, the highschool students identified as "BAG MEN" on the cover of the New York Post, due to identification as suspects on Reddit, as well as a wrongly accused college student (who has since been found dead) provide a sobering example of the negative outcomes of being publicly smeared as potential mass-murderers.

Crowdsourcing criminal investigation has great potential as a tool for making us safer, if we can temper the negatives of online anonymity and the libel it can facilitate.

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