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Why Internet vigilantism can hurt, not help, the Boston Marathon case

by Take Two®

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Medical workers aid injured people at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon following an explosion in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. Charles Krupa/AP

Federal investigators are combing through a number of leads in the Boston Marathon bombing case, including a surveillance image of a man putting down a backpack near one of the bombing sites, captured before the blasts.

Meanwhile a couple of news and image-sharing websites, Reddit and 4Chan, have been overrun with users trying to do their own parallel investigation. Amateur digital-forensic analysts are going through much of the same data as investigators, circling suspicious people in backpacks and swapping theories about who did it and how.

These people want to solve the case, and maybe they can, but in the crude world of internet crime-solving, could they be doing more harm than good?

Joining us to explain is Alexis Madrigal, Senior Editor at The Atlantic.



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