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How a Single Tweet on Social Media Ripped an Indian American Family Apart

Sunil Tripathi
Sunil Tripathi

It’s a real life horror story no family should ever have to endure.

A son goes missing and you start a nationwide search for him. You take to social media and the search goes viral. But that same social media which gave you so much support and love suddenly turns against you.

Three weeks into the search for Brown University Student Sunil Tripathi, a former classmate on Twitter makes the comment that one of the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing looks like Sunil. That comment gets picked up on Reddit and suddenly the entire nation knows about it.

That stunning turn of events is the subject of a new documentary, Help Us Find Sunil Tripathi.



“This is not just one or two comments that would make Mom cry,” says Sunil’s brother Ravi to NPR. “It progressed to having as many laptops open as possible and deleting every single post. It almost felt like a case study in mob mentality, in virtual mob mentality.”
The media quickly descended on the Tripathi family home asking for comment. The phone didn’t stop ringing with request for interviews. News vans lined up outside.

It didn’t all end until the FBI released the names of the suspects. Sunil was not one of them.

Still, the false accusations only compounded a human tragedy. One week later, Sunil would be found dead. The cause of death-suicide.


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