As social media evolves right in front of our eyes, we're beginning to see more and more crimes solved with the help of the internet. Sometimes, such as in the case of the Boston Bomber, the internet’s detective skills aren't so successful. However, in the cases written about in this list, the internet evidence is what helped crack a story wide open. The internet detectives below understand that the web is more than just a tool for research; it can be used to bring about positive change in the world and solve mysteries that have long been forgotten, as well as new stories that seem hopeless.
Some of the instances on this list of the internet being harnessed to stop bad guys are run-of-the-mill lost computer stories, but some of these stories have impacted the way that authorities use the internet in court cases. Some of the online vigilantes profiled here have brought rapists to justice and solved cold cases that were decades old, helping to bring closure to the families and loved ones involved.
Anonymous Redirects Police In The Rehtaeh Parsons Rape CaseVideo: YouTube
After a 2011 investigation of the rape, cyberbullying, and subsequent suicide of a 17-year-old from Nova Scotia, Canada, went nowhere, members of the hacktivist group Anonymous did some research and threatened to release the personal information of the girl's attackers if the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) didn't reopen the case.
After Anonymous made their plea for justice, the RCMP began to look into the case again in order to identify and apprehend the alleged perpetrators.
Police And Social Media Combine Forces To Return Stolen Camera
Anthony Posey, a professional photographer and real estate agent, lost a camera full of photographs in the men's bathroom of the Seattle Public Library and assumed he'd never see it again. The police obtained the stolen camera from an undercover street buy and posted a photo of it online, displaying one of Posey's photos.
An online user was able to cross-reference the photo with a Craigslist post about the camera, helping the police to return it to its original owner, Posey.
Criminals Steal iPad And Post Selfies To The Cloud
In 2015, two men from Houston stole $5,000, a computer, and an iPad and immediately began posting selfies, not realizing that the photos were going straight to the cloud. A week after the theft, the man who'd been burgled checked his cloud and found photos of the thieves, along with a YouTube video they posted after their big score.
Soon afterward, the thieves were apprehended and arrested by police for the theft.
45-Year-Old Hit-And-Run Solved On Facebook
Forty-five years after a hit-and-run incident that caused the death of a child in Upstate New York, a retired police officer posted information about the case to a Facebook group that dealt with local history. Shortly after, he was contacted by a woman who knew the mystery driver.
With this new information, the case was reopened, the driver was found, and he admitted to drinking and driving on that fateful night in 1968.