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Boston Bombing Spurs Internet Detectives Into Action

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BOSTON BOMBINGS
Members of the media and onlookers stand outside of the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., on Wednesday, April 17, 2013. Photographer: Scott Eisen/Bloomberg

April 17 (Bloomberg) -- As officials continue to seek suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings, the highest-profile act of terror in the U.S. since the Sept. 11 attacks on New York City and the Pentagon in 2001, individuals are taking to the Internet in efforts to identify potential culprits.

A group called 4chan ThinkTank posted a 57-picture album on the website imgur.com today that featured images of people who had black backpacks. The FBI and Homeland Security Department yesterday circulated a picture of a damaged black backpack that investigators believe may have held one of the two explosive devices placed near the race’s finish line. The page has gotten more than 1.5 million views.

On reddit.com, a subgroup called “findbostonbombers” had more than 100 message threads, ranging from “Electronic Bomb Component Analysis” to “Blue Robe Guy.” The latter refers to a bearded white male wearing a red shirt, blue jacket and carrying a black backpack over his right arm.

Another reddit page urged caution as individuals take to the website while state, local and federal officials track down leads. Investigators have video of a possible suspect in the bombings, according to federal law-enforcement officials.

“We do not condone vigilante justice. Our aim is simply to provide tips for the FBI, not to take matters into our own hands,” a user known as Rather_Confused said in a posting. “While it’s admirable to help, posting information on anyone noted in pictures could have a devastating effect on their life.”

One such example cited by the website is Richard Jewell, the security guard who was falsely linked to the Centennial Olympic Park bombing during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.

Images from store security cameras near the April 15 bombings may lead to an arrest, according to one federal law enforcement official who was briefed on the matter and asked not to be identified in discussing the investigation.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Chappatta in New York at bchappatta1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at smerelman@bloomberg.net

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