As if the Boston incident itself wasn’t bad enough – and the people didn’t have enough to deal with; there has been a swarm of predictions, investigative reports and commentaries as to who the culprits may have been. And almost all of it is being done online by common people –people like you and me – not federal agents, investigative reporters and trained personnel. Yes they have great brains and observation powers but is that enough?
It started with the image of the remains of a bag shown above which was put out by the FBI andDepartment of Homeland Security. Indeed, this was not necessarily needed, they would have spun out stories regardless but this image became the focus as well as the starting point of a hoard of untrained sleuths online.
They are scrutinizing every available photo of the Marathon finish line, searching for clues that will help catch a killer. Just note some of the theories, and images put online by groups like 4chan ThinkTank can be seen below:
Now we do not question their intentions but should it really be so? We all remember similar instances of online laymen investigations were started. The mystery and excitement of theories being shared, assumptions made and fingers pointed was really intoxicating.
The idea that we might be able to drum up the power of our social media network to find wrong doers and culprits is very seductive indeed. But apparently it has turned in to a monster over time. Some think we may just get used to it as there’s no going back.
A black-and-white strap visible in a picture of a blown-up backpack turns out to create an avalanche of possibilities. With clues and proof no less!
It’s almost like modern day version of age old vigilantism!
But what is to be remembered is that they are not trained people nor cops. There is a reason why there are specific people for specific jobs. They have the knowledge, the training and there are procedures and methods that don’t border on madness and personal feelings or hunches.
It may just work in a case, may be a hundred untrained eyes can spot something the trained ones may overlook. But there is no guarantee and then there’s a matter of responsibility? Amateur web sleuths and investigators or just a bunch of very smart people can cause serious harm or even turn into a trend or social habit that may not be easily undone. It may be difficult but this is the time to put a control check on it.