Before the day’s end, the whole country began to try and answer the first question almost immediately, logging on to social media and assembling photos of the scene of the blast.
Piecing together images from multiple sources, online sleuths looked at everything they could to try and determine a suspect. This includes what people were looking at around the time of the blast and what kind of backpack they were carrying.
All of this amateur detective work left numerous photos placed on the Internet with circles around people with backpacks, and identified as looking “suspicious” and as being possible suspects.
While we commend the enthusiasm of these armchair investigators in helping to crack the case, this kind of work and spreading of information has the potential to cause great harm.
One example of this is a New York Post front page with the headline “Bag Men,” which showed two people not involved in the bombing.
We can also look to the 1996 bombings of the Atlanta Olympics to see the damage of making false reports. In this case, Richard Jewell, a security guard at the event, became a suspect due to false media reports.
While we appreciate people’s enthusiasm in helping to solve acts of terror, we also ask that people don’t jump the gun when it comes to pointing fingers at innocent people.
Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to firstname.lastname@example.org or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.