Opinion | How Online Sleuths Pantsed Putin

Produced by ‘Sway’

It seems you should utilize a prank name to reveal suspected poisoners, mole patterns to determine a violent demonstrator at a white nationalist rally and on-line movies to disclose a weapons-smuggling operation to Syrian rebels.

At least, Eliot Higgins and the web sleuths on the open supply investigative operation Bellingcat can. Since Higgins based the group in 2014, his group has helped break main tales, from unearthing proof that ties Russia to the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 to revealing the identities of Russian brokers suspected of poisoning the opposition chief Aleksei Navalny.

In this dialog, Kara Swisher asks Higgins concerning the perils of taking up Vladimir Putin and the way Bellingcat’s work, which Kara calls “gumshoe journalism,” differs from on-line vigilantism. She presses Higgins on the ethics of paying for information, partnering with political figures like Navalny and constructing an organization that advantages from the shaky relationship Big Tech has with person privateness.

Credit…Illustration by The New York Times; by Tom Jamieson for The New York Times

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“Sway” is produced by Nayeema Raza, Blakeney Schick, Heba Elorbany, Matt Kwong and Daphne Chen, and edited by Nayeema Raza and Paula Szuchman; fact-checking by Kate Sinclair; music and sound design by Isaac Jones; mixing by Erick Gomez. Special because of Shannon Busta, Kristin Lin and Liriel Higa.