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Boston Marathon Suspect & Sunil Tripathi

The left picture is a photo of one of the suspects for the Boston Marathon incident captured by the surveillance camera and the on the right was the photo of a missing Brown University student, Sunil Tripathi. As you can see, the picture on the left had very poor resolution and one can only guess who the person was. With news about Sunil Tripathi circulating, a Redditor eager to help with identifying the suspect jumped the gun and created a false connection between the two. The Reddit post pointing out the false identification blew up online and thus began the witch hunt for Sunil Tripathi. What is even worse, is that newspapers antsy for any kind of update with regards to the issue took the unconfirmed information as truth and spread the false word.

Later, it was revealed that Sunil Tripathi was completely unrelated and Reddit issued a public apology. But the poor resolution of the image in combination of high tension created an unpleasant situation for Sunil’s family during that short time period of Sunil’s witch hunt. So do we blame the poor resolution of the image for the “prosecution” of Sunil Tripathi? The answer is an obvious no, but this gives some evidence as to how image resolution can affect the people. We as a society depend on the notion of “Seeing is believing” and when what you see is unclear, people can draw to the wrong conclusion without proof in order to do away with the uncertainty. Thus, we should strive to do away with images of poor resolution, not only for aesthetic, but also for clarity.