Facebook vigilantes “just can’t get enough”

The Witches of Facebook [so you can read background]

This is now something of a casebook social phenomenon. The Facebook vigilante groups calling for lynch mob style revenge for suspected Victorian arsonist B****** S****** are spreading like, well…actually like “wildfire”. The most prominent has gone underground, but several others have sprung up.

It makes me wonder what the Facebook moderators and the Victorian police are doing about this. Meanwhile the vicious and ignorant hate continues to dribble forth.

Burn the motherf***** like he did to all those innocent people. Jail is too good for the c*** [my edits]

The pro-lynching groups are now also claiming to be victims of an anti-free-speech brigade. It’s beyond laughable, it’s a sad indictment of the whole social networking idea. This is an example of the level of debate and discussion this is throwing up (literally)

Why do people want to protect that low life peaice of shit???..To hell with what authorities say about facebook groups on that freak not being aloud…cos we will anyway..if not on facebook else where. Its spose to be a flamming free country where freedom of speach is a high priority…. so c’mon ppl join this group im 100% in favour of it myself!!!

Personally I blame reality TV and the edumukashun system.

I see this as fairly clear evidence that we’re dumbing down public debate. I think it’s refreshingly democratic that “everyone” can join in on Facebook and I admire those hardy souls who take it upon themselves to intervene in these sick discussion lists with vigour, honesty and some humour, but really what are they trying to do?

It would seem to me almost impossible to think that getting involved in a slanging match with prejudiced and ill-educated dribblejaws is going to change anyone’s mind. All that happens in these groups is that like-minded people reinforce each other’s ignorance and find solidarity for their views.

Social networks like Facebook are not the new public sphere. They are not fora for informed debate on issues of public importance. Unfortunately, for many Facebookers it is the only media they engage in on any serious level. The interactivity is great, but the intellectual level is way down.

It’s the evil egging on the ignorant.

One line I did notice though that I think needs more attention is the way in which Kevin Rudd’s ill-considered comments about the suspected arson in Victoria being “mass murder” may have led to the legitimation of the hate-rant stuff that’s now taking off on Facebook.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said Monday: “I think it’s important that the nation braces itself for more bad news. This is a little horror which few of us anticipated.””What do you say about anyone like that?” Rudd said. “There’s no words to describe it, other than it’s mass murder.”

This is how moral panics work. A “legitimate” source – in this case the Australian Prime Minister – makes a signal statement that looses the fear and gives an imprimatur to louder calls for action and revenge.

4 Responses to Facebook vigilantes “just can’t get enough”

  1. NIK says:

    The anonymity of the Net is also a great facilitator — say whatever you want, you can’t be found out is the thinking. I’ve been amazed at the sheer racist vitriol over the Emery tagging murder case, for instance. Obviously people are angry but wow, I’ve seen people type things I didn’t think anyone would say aloud.

  2. [...] We’ve had the amazing spectacle this week of the Facebook admins having to delete groups and personal accounts after public outrage over cyber-vigilantes baying for blood and revenge in the most obscene ways. [The witches of Facebook / Facebook vigilantes] [...]

  3. Daz says:

    As somebody that tried to join one of these facebook groups with the idea that people would participate in actual debate about the topic, I congratulate you for this article.

    I was ganged up on by the mob mentality and accused of supporting B….. S….. simply because I said he has a right to a fair trial before we condemn him.

    If B….. S…… is responsible for the fires, he is responsible for 11 deaths. History has shown that when the rule of law is overthrown within a country, deaths typically number in the millions.

    Personally, I believe what these people are advocating is far worse than what any arsonist could achieve.

    fb link to a particularly good example http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=52723958329

  4. Anna Campbell says:

    Congratulations. I really like what you’ve done there. I’m wondering if Langstaff will actually have the Intestinal Fortitude to come and have an ADULT like debate with you when she eventually crawls back out from under her rock when with she will as her sort always do.
    I thought it was quite funny that a reporter from The Daily on the Sunshine Coast wrote an article and tried to contact her to get Some hard answers re: why she did it, did she get paid ect. and hasn’t been able to get a peep out Miss Motor Mouth. Mmm. Weird LOL.

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