Aaron Swartz Remembered: Reddit Responds To Suicide Of Co-Founder

Owen Poindexter
Reddit users were angered and upset by the suicide of the site's cofounder Aaron Swartz, who was facing a potential prison term of 35 years and a million dollar fine for hacking into the scholarly database JSTOR.

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Aaron Swartz took his own life, but he is well-remembered by reddit, the community he helped start. PHOTO: Reuters

Jason Swartz' suicide provoked a lot of mourning and anger at Reddit, the incredibly popular website he cofounded. (Swartz also invented the RSS feed at the age of 14. Read that sentence again.) Many commenters openly mourned for Swartz (names given are reddit handles):

tianan: Not only did the man cofound Reddit, he co-authored RSS 1.0. He was a creator and innovator of the highest degree, and will be sorely missed.

Thanks for all you've done.

BatsintheBelfry45: He couldn't have known how many lives he's changed for the better, or how much people like me appreciated it. I never took the chance to thank him when he was alive, so I will say it now. Thank you Aaron for helping create this wonderful community for me and others to enjoy.

jeremymorgan: Incredibly sad, so young and talented. He helped change the internet, and our government repaid him by ruining his life.

Countless redditors simply left a period to denote a moment of silence.

But, of course, sadness wasn't the only emotion, there was plenty of anger. Swartz was on trial for hacking into the scholarly database JSTOR and making all of its papers public. JSTOR dropped its charges against him, but the U.S. Department of Justice wanted to make an example of him and was pursuing a sentence of 35 years in prison and fine of one million dollars. The top three articles today in the reddit politics section were all about this:

The Prosecution Of Aaron Swartz: Sharing Knowledge Is A Greater Crime Than Bringing Down The Economy

Some Crimes That Carry Lighter Sentences Than Aaron Swartz Faced Include Manslaughter, Selling Slaves, Genocidal Eugenics, Helping Bin Laden Develop a Nuke, and Breaking Justice Scalia's Nose

10 Awful Crimes That Get You Less Prison Time Than What Aaron Swartz Faced For Freeing JSTOR

There are plenty of comments worthy of discussion on reddit, but for the sake of brevity, here is just one: "

Middleman79: You can get more jail time for illegally downloading a Michael Jackson song than the doctor got for killing him. Weird world we live in.