The social news website Reddit has apologized for its coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings, which it admitted had turned into an online “witch hunt.”
Its subreddit, Find Boston Bombers, named several innocent people as users pieced together information and images in an attempt to identify suspects. Those wrongly named included 17-year-old Salah Barhoun and Sunil Tripathi, 22, who has been missing from home for several weeks.
In a blog posting Reddit said some of its users’ activity sparked “witch hunts and dangerous speculation.”
It added: “The Reddit staff and the millions of people on Reddit around the world deeply regret that this happened. We have apologized privately to the family of missing college student Sunil Tripathi, as have various users and moderators. We want to take this opportunity to apologize publicly for the pain they have had to endure.”
Tripathi’s family had to suspend a Facebook page they started in an effort to find him, after his name was wrongly posted on a variety of social media websites.
Reddit said it invoked a policy, several years ago, banning the use of personal information on the site, specifically to avoid “online witch hunts.” It said it thought crowdsourcing in the hunt for the Boston bombers would not deteriorate into such a witch hunt. Reddit added: “We were wrong.”
At the peak of the hunt, more than 270,000 users were on Reddit, the site said.