I am teaching a 500 level course this semester entitled, “Psychology of Interactive Media.” I posed this question to my students today…
What do you think about the response of social networking sites like 4chan and Reddit to the Boston Marathon Bombing? Hundreds of users have congregated around the footage from Monday to search for possible suspects. However mainstream news organizations have focused on the possible negative effects of this vigilante styled justice, including placing blame on innocent individuals. Is this trend based on, or satisfying, an inherent psychological need that we have for control and problem solving? Should they be squashed to acquiesce to the police and the federal government? Does our new and interactive media culture change the expectations of justice?
Check out the 4chan Think Tank on imgur.
And there is a great summary of the events at The New Yorker: The Internet Mystery-Solving Machine.