Reddit apologises to family of missing student after Boston Marathon bombing 'witch hunts' on the site
Social news site Reddit has apologised to the family of a missing student after he was wrongly identified in a crowdsourcing thread on the site as a possible Boston Marathon bombing suspect.
Horror: Three people were killed when two bombs exploded
In a 'Find Boston Bombers' thread, a 17-year-old girl and missing 22-year-old student Sunil Tripathi were claimed to have been at the scene.
While the Boston Police Department and other public services took to platforms like Twitter to inform the public and request information in the aftermath of the bombing and the subsequent man-hunt, Reddit admitted the coverage on its own site fuelled witch hunts against innocent people.
"Some of the activity on Reddit fuelled online witch hunts and dangerous speculation which spiralled into very negative consequences for innocent parties," said the statement.
"The Reddit staff and the millions of people on Reddit around the world deeply regret that this happened. We have apologised privately to the family of missing college student Sunil Tripathi, as have various users and moderators.
"We want to apologise publicly for the pain they have had to endure."
Google Analytics figures showed traffic peaked on Reddit at around 272,000 users when reports were circulating of the second suspect being captured.
The statement added: "A few years ago, Reddit enacted a policy to not allow personal information on the site. This was because 'let's find out who this is' events frequently result in witch hunts, often incorrectly identifying innocent suspects and disrupting or ruining their lives.
"We hoped that the crowdsourced search for new information would not spark exactly this type of witch hunt. We were wrong.
"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."
Suspected bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed during the search by police to capture him and his 19-year-old brother, Dzhokhar, was charged over the bombings in his hospital bed after being wounded during capture.
Three people were killed and more than 200 injured after two bombs exploded at the finishing line of the Boston Marathon on 15 April.