Boston: How media made a mess of Sunil Tripathi's name

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Boston, April 20: Social media sites on Thursday were lit up with a rumour that Sunil Tripathi, a student who had vanished some weeks ago, was one of the suspects accused in the Boston marathon bombing case of April 15.

But several hours later, NBC News reported that the police were actually hunting for two brothers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tripathi had no relation with the entire episode.

But the damage had already been done by then. As the news about Tripathi went viral, his family based in Providence in Rhode Island felt helpless as the Internet community went on levelling accusations against him.

According to Sangeeta Tripathi, Sunil's sister, the tweets and the retweets went on establishing unsubstantiated things and it the impact was destructive, according to a Reuters news report. The family recalled the nights with horror, the report added.

Even prominent journalists were not innocent. The problem created by the social media rumour was aggravated by them by means of recirculating the misinformation on Friday morning. Some traditional media houses were slammed for irresponsible reporting and posting controversial photographs while the social media sites came under criticism for rushing to judgment.

The New York Post, for instance, had published on Wednesday on its front page a picture of two men holding bags implying that they were the suspects. Post editor Col Allan later said that it did not mean that the men pictured were  suspects and that it stood by the cover photo.

Media experts said that the errors stemmed partly from the pressure to complete in the fast-slowing new media.

Reddit, an increasingly influencial social media site, came to focus after mixing up around Tripathi, and its general manager had even apologised to the Tripathy family and promised a review of policy. Reddit general manager Erik Martin said the crowd-sourced information was extreme in the Boston case.

Another popular social news site Buzzfeed also played spread the Tripathi rumour initially although its editor defended the reporter who was behind the circulation.

It was because of these media's overdoing that Tripathi's name had been circulated in the press in Britain and also India, the country of his origin.

OneIndia News

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