How (And Why) A Pack Of Twitter Vigilantes Recovered A Stranger's Stolen Laptop

A guy was able to hunt down his laptop after he lost it by using a program that gave him remote access to it, tracking its location and taking screenshots of the person who was using it. He even got the guys name after watching him log into Skype. Problem was the laptop was in New York City and the owner was traveling in Canada. So he began live-tweeting his predicament and the Twitterverse rose up and rescued his laptop.

That’s right, people reading along with his tweets actually showed up at the bar where the laptop was, confronted the guy who was using it, and got him to hand it over. Being able to show him video of himself using the computer helped seal the deal. You can follow along with the whole tale in chronological form on this Storify page.

(By the way, he couldn’t get the police involved because you need to file a police report and in New York you can only do that in person.)

There’s been a lot of hand-wringing over how the mediated anonymity of the internet makes it easier for people to be mean to each other. Witness the comments on a typical YouTube video. But maybe it also makes it easier for us to be helpful and altruistic too.

[via Gizmodo]