The Capitol Riot Highlighted the Value—and Pitfalls—of Crowdsourced OSINT

Seeking information flyers produced by the FBI to identify alleged Capitol rioters, photographed on Dec. 20, 2021 (AP photo by Jon Elswick).
Seeking information flyers produced by the FBI to identify alleged Capitol rioters, photographed on Dec. 20, 2021 (AP photo by Jon Elswick).
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In the months after the storming of the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, law enforcement agencies received an avalanche of tips and witness statements claiming to have evidence that might help identify those allegedly involved in the insurrection. Many of these tips from the public were the result of online crowdsourcing and amateur detective e-sleuthing, and with their help, the FBI has arrested over 700 suspects in the year since then. The use of crowdsourced, open-source intelligence, or OSINT, to hold the Capitol rioters accountable highlights the ways in which this technique has rapidly spread in recent […]

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