15 January 2013

Reddit Co-founder Commits Suicide At 26

Aaron Swartz

Reddit co-founder and computer prodigy, Aaron Swartz who helped create RSS 1.0, has committed suicide at his Brooklyn Apartment. The death of this 26 year old internet icon has sparked grief and anger among online rights advocates. Reports said that Aaron Swartz was feeling miserable over the acquisition of Reddit and was also accused of stealing millions of scholarly articles from MIT.

Over the years Aaron had become an online model who fought to make information available freely to the public, including 19 million pages of federal court documents from the PACER case law system reports TOI.

According to Peter Eckersley of the California based activist group, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Swartz was widely known for his contributions in making the internet a thriving ecosystem for open knowledge.

In his online ‘manifesto’, Swartz wrote that Information is power and there are those who want to keep it for themselves. He also believed in sharing, considering that it wasn’t immoral. Only greed could refuse one from letting others get information. This prompted Swartz to establish a non-profit group called DemandProgress. The group was known for its successful campaign to block a bill introduced in 2011 by U.S. House of Representatives called Stop Online Piracy Act.

He was found facing federal criminal charges in a controversial fraud case of stealing millions of scholarly articles from the digital archive of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, according to news.com.au. Pleading not guilty to all counts, Swartz was charged with 35 years of imprisonment and a fine of $1 million. Mean while he was released on bond and his trial was scheduled to start later this year.

Swartz has contributed in building Reddit but left the company after it was acquired by Conde Nast, a publication which owned Wired Magazine. It was later learnt that Swartz was feeling miserable on account of the acquisition after going to work at the San Francisco offices of Wired.

Doctorow, co-editor of weblog Boing Boing also wrote on his site that Swartz was unbeatable at political insights, technical skills and intelligence about people and issues, and that he was facing problems with depression for many years.