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Anonymous, the Boston Marathon bombing, and conspiracy theories

As this is being written, social media is buzzing over arrests in Boston. This is typical, in spite of (or perhaps because of) an official FBI press conference on the matter being scheduled for later in the day. Everyone is wanting information first – the holy grail of journalism, the big scoop. Of course, the content tends to get the shaft with that mentality. Accuracy in media is one issue that rears its ugly head in the wake of any tragedy, lest we forget the debacle of Newtown, and the majority of the media initially reporting that the killer’s brother was the one that had done the deed.

Thankfully, in this case, other than the Saudi man that was questioned on the day of the bombing, there hasn’t really been a mass misreporting of a supposedly guilty party. While it might be nice to think that the media learned a lesson in Connecticut, the more likely reason for this is that there simply hasn’t been a great deal of information being leaked by law enforcement this time around. Maybe they were the ones that learned?

Regardless, there have been little rumblings about the potential involvement of the hacker collective Anonymous. That in itself isn’t surprising, given their track history of injecting themselves into various headlines (think the Steubenville rape story, for example.) And how could the Guy Fawkes wearing, voice modulating crew resist the opportunity to release yet another veiled-threat video?

And what about the folks that were supposedly blaming Anonymous in the first place? Were they bloggers, or press, or what? Well, it seems we’ve got a fledgling group – Your Rights Vigilante – out there that appears to be casting itself as a vigilante anti-Anonymous group. As if the hackers weren’t disturbing enough, now we’ll have to keep an eye on yet another group like it.

In case anyone’s wondering, that’s how conspiracy theories are born, bred, and sent around the internet to fuel a myriad of insane blog posts. As for this vigilante group, perhaps they won’t manage to get a decent following (which would be a good thing), or if they do, the whole “war against Anonymous” thing will play out in at least an amusing fashion. As for the public in general, it can only be hoped that they view this like putting a couple cobras in a pen together – let them fight it out, see which one survives, and then let the mongoose in to turn the victor into dinner.

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