The New York Post is reporting that the Internet genius behind the popular Web site Reddit.com committed suicide at his Brooklyn home, according to police sources and friends.
Cops discovered Aaron Swartz unconscious at 9:30 a.m. and are now investigating whether he hanged himself, law enforcement sources said.
Swartz helped create Reddit and drafted an early version of the RSS format, a “Web feed” that syndicates popular headlines. Friends yesterday called him a prolific intellectual — and a computer geek legend — who had long suffered from depression.
“We have lost someone today who had more work to do — and who made the world a better place,” his pal Cory Doctorow wrote on the blog Biong Boing.
Swartz was also an avid Internet activist, who pushed to make web files open to the public. He opposed the “Stop Online Piracy Act,” which keeps hackers from swiping web content such as music and movies.
But that mindset got him into trouble in June 2012, when federal officers arrested him for allegedly downloading academic journals on the subscription-only website JSTOR.com.
He pleaded not guilty to fraud in 2012 — but the case remained open at the time of his death. He faced decades in prison and a fortune in fines.