Via @awsamuel: Riot vigilantes speak for themselves

Nothing pretty about mob justice.

Riot vigilantes speak for themselves

by Alex on 6/21/2011 in facebook | mob | Vancouver riots

In the past couple of days I’ve heard from people who were initially enthusiastic about the crowdsourcing of rioter identification, but now see the concern with this kind of vigilantism. I’d love to take credit, but I’m not the most convincing voice in this argument.

The real argument for restraint comes from the folks who are participating in online identification efforts on Facebook and blogs. As the week wears on, it’s the tenor of comments posted about the rioters has included many nasty, racist, misogynistic or generally hateful remarks. It’s the angry, prejudiced and even violent tone of comments that has more and more people what is scary about the other mob — the one that has materialized online.


From the increasingly invaluable Alexandra Samuel, who’s quickly becoming my go-to reference for the not-so-pleasant effects of using social media.

As I’ve argued elsewhere, it’s all very well to say that social media are just a tool, and that like any tool they can used for a variety of purposes, good and bad. That’s clear enough to anyone who uses them. But at some point you have to look beyond the mere utility and actually examine the uses to which the tools are being put, and the assumptions and relationships giving rise to those uses.

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