Internet prodigy, activist Aaron Swartz commits suicide

Aaron Swartz, the Internet political activist who co-wrote the initial specification for RSS, was found dead at age 26.

Story highlights

  • Swartz's family says federal prosecutors and MIT "contributed to his death"
  • Swartz, 26, was found Friday after he hung himself, ME's office and his family says
  • He helped pioneer the Internet's icons of RSS and Reddit at a young age
  • Swartz then became an aggressive Internet activist, landing him in legal trouble
Aaron Swartz, an Internet savant who at a young age shaped the online era by co-developing RSS and Reddit and later became a digital activist, has committed suicide.
Swartz's body was found Friday evening in Brooklyn, said Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman with the New York medical examiner's office. The 26-year-old had hanged himself in his apartment.
His family and partner said they were "in shock, and have not yet come to terms with his passing."
"Aaron's insatiable curiosity, creativity, and brilliance; his reflexive empathy and capacity for selfless, boundless love; his refusal to accept injustice as inevitable -- these gifts made the world, and our lives, far brighter," they said in a statement. "We're grateful for our time with him, to those who loved him and stood with him, and to all of those who continue his work for a better world."
A prodigy, Swartz was behind some of the Internet's defining moments, soaring to heights that many developers only dream of. At the same time, he was plagued by legal problems arising from his aggressive activism, and he was also known to suffer depression, a personal matter that he publicly revealed on his blog.