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Facing The Consequences Of Our Baby Reindeer Obsession

In the wake of the latest Netflix true crime sensation, Baby Reindeer, focus has shifted to the influence of online detectives on real criminal investigations

While the genre has often been credited with bringing attention to cold cases and even aiding in solving them, recent incidents have underscored the potential pitfalls of armchair detective work.

On today’s The Briefing, we talked to Greg Stratton from RMIT, who is currently writing a book about true crime and wrongful convictions. 

Mr Stratton said the rise of armchair detectives, individuals who engage in amateur investigative work from the comfort of their homes, has been fueled by the popularity of true crime content. 

Shows like The Teacher’s Pet and Up and Vanished have demonstrated how public interest can sometimes lead to breakthroughs in long-dormant cases. 

“Over the last 15 years, there’s sort of been this idea of convergence culture where we both produce and consume material at the same time,” Mr Stratton said.

So we watch a show, but we also feel like because of the options that we have with digital technology, we want to be involved in some way,” he said.

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However, not all instances of amateur sleuthing end with positive outcomes.

In the case of Baby Reindeer, fans of the Netflix series have taken it upon themselves to investigate the real-life counterparts of the characters portrayed. 

Despite efforts by the creators to maintain the privacy of those involved, internet sleuths have attempted to uncover identities.

Mr Stratton highlighted the potential dangers of amateur detective work and warned of the risks associated with untrained individuals interfering in ongoing investigations.

“The wrongful identification of suspects and defamation of innocent individuals are just some of the harmful side effects of armchair detectives getting involved in investigations.”

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