The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz

Critics Consensus

Informative and enraging in equal measure, The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz uses its subject's tragic tale to deliver an impassioned call to action.

93%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 59

91%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 4,233
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Movie Info

The story of programming prodigy and information activist Aaron Swartz. From Swartz's help in the development of the basic internet protocol RSS to his co-founding of Reddit, his fingerprints are all over the internet. But it was Swartz's groundbreaking work in social justice and political organizing combined with his aggressive approach to information access that ensnared him in a two year legal nightmare. It was a battle that ended with the taking of his own life at the age of 26. Aaron's story touched a nerve with people far beyond the online communities in which he was a celebrity. This film is a personal story about what we lose when we are tone deaf about technology and its relationship to our civil liberties. (c) FilmBuff Participant

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News & Interviews for The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz

Critic Reviews for The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz

All Critics (59) | Top Critics (23) | Fresh (55) | Rotten (4)

  • Talking (egg)heads reiterate outrage over the Obama Justice Department's witch hunt against him, but Swartz's ex-girlfriend adds heart when she tearfully recalls first seeing the ''end date'' on his Wikipedia page.

    Dec 3, 2014 | Rating: B | Full Review…
  • The film builds up a portrait of a brilliant, driven, complex young man who's likely to be an iconic figure in the future, a sort of digital-age Che Guevara.

    Aug 28, 2014 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • The sad untimely death of precocious internet maven Aaron Schwartz is the focus of this chilling doc.

    Aug 28, 2014 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Fascinating, maddening, and ultimately very sad.

    Jul 10, 2014 | Rating: 3/4
  • The film not only canonizes its hero - who committed suicide amid a nasty federal indictment against him - but also brushes aside any big-picture concerns about national security and Internet piracy.

    Jul 9, 2014 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • Aaron Swartz's story should make you furious.

    Jun 28, 2014 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz

  • Jan 30, 2015
    An inspiring, enraging and extremely sad documentary about this admirable young man whose only crime in this anti-democratic society was to seek knowledge and try to make it accessible to everyone - and his stupid death shows that a lot must be changed/fought for in this corrupted world.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Aug 30, 2014
    When old world and new world collide, this heart breaking story of an amazing individual who did so much to progress open democracy and freedom of information. An old world wanted to make an example of him to deter others, it cost him his life. I hope this film inspires many others to take up Aaron's torch and build the world we want, not inherit what is dictated to us. Put it on the national curriculum for citizenship.
    Jon H Super Reviewer
  • Jul 20, 2014
    Aaron Swartz stood for a free and democratic Internet. He was guilty of downloading 5 million scholarly texts from the JSTOR database. However since this material wasn't of a sensitive nature, nor did he plan to financially gain from the acquisition, the infraction seems negligible at best. Unfortunately none of the antagonists agreed to appear on camera. If there's a villain here it's the U.S. attorney's office and specially the chief prosecutor in the case, Stephen Heymann. He doesn't fare too well at all. His absence doesn't help him, but it's hard to say whether it would have served him if he had showed up to defend his questionable motives. Even hallowed university MIT comes under fire for its failure to speak up in Aaron's defense despite their supposed commitment to open access. The end result is a one-sided but emotionally compelling view. It will make you angry but it will also make you profoundly sad. You will mourn this young man who, in the aftermath of the events detailed here, ultimately took his own life. fastfilmreviews.com
    Mark H Super Reviewer
  • Jun 30, 2014
    "The Internet's Own Boy" is an insightful and informative documentary about Aaron Swartz who facing the possibility of 35 years in jail for downloading intellectual journals at MIT committed suicide at the age of 26. The documentary does a good job of filling in the blanks in Aaron's life, starting with being a computer prodigy in suburban Chicago before dropping out of Stanford University and co-founding Reddit. Along the way, he idolized Tim Berners-Lee who DID invent the internet.(And where is his documentary, by the way?) That led to Aaron not just creating personal wealth, but in taking an interest in the public sphere, especially as it relates to the freedom of information. What "The Internet's Own Boy" does not do especially well is with one exception give the prosecutor's side of events, with the defense presenting almost all of the evidence.(Admittedly, there were a few people who decided not to participate.) In any case, we get a very clear view of what it is like to be prosecuted by federal authorities and investigated by the FBI, for which many people who do not have Aaron's resources have to go through something similar on a daily basis, as is also pointed out here.
    Walter M Super Reviewer

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