What’s the Latest Development?
Could social media have found the Boston Marathon bombing suspects faster? Could they have prevented the bombing in the first place? “Within hours of two bombs going off at the finishing line of the Boston marathon, self-appointed sleuths were poring over images posted on social media looking for suspects. They identified plenty. None of them were the bombers. This ‘internet vigilantism’ has rightly attracted opprobrium. Dozens of innocent bystanders were smeared, many of them simply because of their skin color – what one commentator called a game of ‘racist Where’s [Waldo]’.”
What’s the Big Idea?
While ordinary citizens may lack the necessary training to ignore their own emotional leanings and focus on the facts of the crime, it is possible to imagine computer software that would work to neutralize those obscuring emotions. An opinion piece in the British science publication New Scientist claims that such tools are already under development and that we have reason to be hopeful about such efforts. “Perhaps the only positive outcome of the fiasco was to reveal the enormous amount of goodwill that exists out there. Ordinary citizens gave their time for free trying to do the right thing… The fact that it spiralled out of control does not negate that.”
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