To find the suspects being sought for the Boston Marathon bombings earlier this week, the FBI is now utilizing the biggest, but most unruly, facial recognition program available today: social media.
Using social media to solve crime and seek out suspects is not new, but to do so one a scale like this is unique, but not for long. The Internet itself has evolved to a point where often the social media outpaces the news outlets by sometimes a half hour. The FBI already stated today that they frequently turn to the public for tips and information in cases, and this one is no exception. Already, I’ve seen people retweeting photos of one of the suspects rounding a corner after the explosions.
The Internet is a wonderful tool. It is perfect for research, news following and even sometimes news gathering. It is also a depressing place filled with people who are paranoid and wear tinfoil hats after chewing off the aglets on their shoelaces. In case you didn’t know, that’s what the plastic tips on shoelaces are. And if The Question is anything to go by, their true purpose is sinister.
The Internet fuels 9/11 conspiracies. It is where InfoWars really gets down and dirty with the paranoia. It is where I go to seek shelter from the cruel, harsh mistress that is reality. And, while I believe people are certainly capable of helping out, there is now an even greater number of paranoids with access to information. Have you ever seen one of the episodes of Law and Order: SVU where they set up a tip line? Notice how each and every time they complain about all the crazies calling in. The FBI just set up the biggest tipline ever and I cannot imagine it going well at all.
Still, there is some hope to be found here (See: Picture Above). There are people who truly care and want to help. There are also Internet vigilantes who will stop at nothing to find out whatever they can in order to help. There is also InfoWars, but if you don’t make eye contact, you should be okay. So far, I’ve stayed under Alex Jones’ radar and I intend to stay that way while trolling him every so often on Twitter.
However, the larger point to all this, if you can get past my cynicism (which is a mountainous endeavor, I know), I really do think it’s pretty rad how we’ve managed to somehow funnel and yet diversify all at the same time our info sources. Everyone is on Twitter now. Even my mom (Hi, mom! Sorry I used a bad word in my post the other day!). Everything is on Twitter now. Facebook is a little less accessible because of privacy settings being way more stringent, but it’s no less awesome how quickly things spread. We often get little micro stories on how people on social media rally to find a lost dog or relative or locate a stolen vehicle. What the FBI has done is take that to an incredibly huge scale
Only time will tell if it will work. I suppose I have faith enough in humanity. If “humanity” doesn’t include Alex Jones and his fans, which I don’t think it does.