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Letter to the editor: Column blaming Reddit jumped to conclusions
Published 4/26/2013 6:00:00 AM
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I found Joel Freeborn’s column, “Redditshouldn’t dictate FBI investigations,” to be a rather interesting read. The irony of a column about the spread of misinformation using illegitimate sources to substantiate its claims wasn’t lost on me.

The article itself used information through another source rather than the original, further spreading misinformation to the masses. Mr. Freeborn blamed Reddit, which is just a giant Internet forum, because the users thought of who might be a suspect.

True, they were wrong. True, they harassed the family through Facebook. Those claims are undeniably true and these users are at fault.

However, Mr. Freeborn added "...I doubt any kind of legitimate apology will be forthcoming." That's a pretty damning statement, as well as highly biased, severely misplaced, and wrong.

First of all, he cannot put blame on a website for the actions of a minority of users on another site. Secondly, apologies were immediately issued by many users after learning of their faults. Reddit users also hoped to spread the word of his influence as fast as possible and remove any sort of post that had the wrong information.

Mr. Freeborn assumed this site is as dark a corner of the Internet as 4chan.

I also did not hear of any apology by news crews that waited and harassed the two suspects’ families in the front yards of their homes. That seems much more inappropriate, insensitive and damaging than any remarks the families received online.

But the public spread of that misinformation? Let's talk about how the established news networks picked up and reported on these accusations based on words off a public forum of amateurs. The news used unaccredited sources as report worthy news and findings.

Another section of this article mentioned the changing and altering of police scanners. It was announced many times throughout that broadcast that information such as locations and names would not be reported by the news and online. Redditors took these precautions seriously. The national news did not.

A New York Times blogger reported on a Fox News survey, which found that "for the first time since before 9/11, more respondents were unwilling (45 percent) than willing (43 percent) to sacrifice personal freedoms to reduce the threat of terrorism."

With slipping cooperation with government and public safety requests, and a quick response from online forums, how can that blame be more placed on a website than the uncooperative media sources?

I visit neither Reddit nor 4chan, I just follow the news as much as any regular person and do my research before coming to unjust conclusions.

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