Swine flu pandemic infects Twitter

April 27, 2009

It should be obvious by now that Twitter is a useful viral marketing tool – whatever you might think of it in terms of journalism and news.

And, like the Witches of Facebook, Twitter can be a platform for dis-information.

The swine flu pandemic has hit Twitter. The TechCrunch blog is tracking the cyberspace traffic on the pandemic.

Since I started writing this about 20 minutes ago (it’s 4.02 PM in Auckland) another 700 tweets on the pandemic have been posted. That’s one every 2 seconds. Some of it is funny, some links to factual stuff, some is just misinformed and hopeless.

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Facebook vigilantes “just can’t get enough”

February 18, 2009

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.


The witches of Facebook – lynch mobs dribblejaws’ style

February 17, 2009

If Facebook is the new global village, it’s a village full of fucken’idiots, simpletons and dribblejaws (with the honourable exception of all my friends of course).

One of the people accused of lighting some of the devastating fires in Victoria has had his lack of education and sad love life splattered across the news pages in a way that doesn’t appear to advance the story at all.

Accused arsonist angry at girlfriend’s rejection.

Now this has turned into a vigilante exercise in witch burning. A number of people have started Facebook groups that have, despite the protests of the founders, become lynch mobs. This group, Make it know B****** S****** is the man who was arrested for arson, is the most prominent. Here’s what founder Yvette Langstaff has to say:

People need to put a name to the crime, not be left in dark. This site is for people to vent thier frustrations of our legal system, for people to grieve & leave messages of support to our hardworking firefighters and volunteers.

Please do not post photo’s of suspect on this site and we do not condone lynch mob’s..

“Vent their frustrations of our legal system”? What the hell is this? What has the legal system done? Nothing except follow due process. A suspect has been charged and is in custody. He will face a trial on arson and possession of child pornography (if there’s a link there I can’t see it). What is there to be frustrated at? What’s with the wandering apostrophes?

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South Auckland says “Thanks English rugby pricks”

June 22, 2008

Whanau across Auckland’s southern suburbs are breathing a collective sigh of relief this Sunday as they return from church – via the bottle shop of course.

Their bad drinking habits have been pushed off the front pages today by the bad drinking and rutting habits of English rugby players.

The good burghers of Counties Manakau can thank the rugby pricks, or at least the rampant penises of a handful of English internationals, who – as we alll now know – were cavorting around the penthouse suites and corridors of the posh Hilton hotel last weekend.

The antics of the English dicks have kept us entertained – at least off the rugby pitch – as we guess which ones were playing hide the sausage with a bevy of pretty Auckland comfort girls.

We found out pretty quickly that one young woman – the appropriately-monikered “Angel” – had enjoyed at least the first part of her dalliance with an English prick. That is until a bunch of other English pricks – no doubt still nursing a whopping binge-blast – came into the room and proceeded to pull the sheets off the bed she was resting in.

Much to the delight of the beleagured residents of Otahuhu and Manuwera, who just wanted to enjoy a quiet bevvy without being bothered by thirsty journos, the Sunday papers have been hot on the tail of Angel and her friends all week.

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This year, vote 1 Laura Norder

June 20, 2008

Anyone reading this on Mars might not know that it’s election season in New Zealand. According to some recent surveys here, there’s a fair bunch of Kiwis who don’t know either.

I’m not sure, myself, how you could miss it. The stink of hypocrisy is now stronger than the pong from Roto Vegas’ famed sulphur pools. There’s blood in the water too.

The political sharks are circling; any hint of weakness and they’ll surge in to bite you on the ass, or worse.

Perhaps like the feet washing up on the west coast of Canada, body parts will be floating in the Hauraki Gulf and Cook Strait before too long.

That’s why I’m voting for Laura Norder.

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Oh alcohol, I sure drink to your health

June 18, 2008

I don’t mind a Martini now and again and occasionally I’ve even been known to drink more than’s actually good for me. But I don’t blame the booze, it’s usually a conscious decision, or in some cases, my judgement starts to lapse.

Lapses like the time I stole a bottle of vodka from a friend’s wedding party. I returned it once I’d come round and realised what a prick I’d been. Luckily my pals saw the funny side of the story and I’m not ashamed to re-tell it for a laugh now and again.

However, I am a bit upset about the political reactions to the death of Navtej Singh last weekend after a robbery-gone-horribly-wrong in his Manuwera liquor store.

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Youth – the new folk devils

September 19, 2007

Media and young people – hyping up new folk devils|22Sep07|Socialist Worker

This is a link to an interesting piece by academic Mike Wayne, published in the British Socialist Worker newspaper. Wayne is a researcher in media and I’ve read his work, particularly on global capitalism and media forms. It is a good follow up my previous post about tasering students and how cops now think it’s normal to shoot thousands of volts through people who are disturbing the peace.

In this article, Mike Wayne is commenting on new attempts to demonise young people and he’s got the research data to back up his claims. In case you don’t want to read the whole piece, here’s a grab that sets the record straight about media coverage of youth. There’s no balance here just commodified celebrity role models – spend, consume, shut up – and deviant bastards – shut up, lock up.

I have been working with a team of researchers at Brunel university looking at how young people are portrayed on television news.

Our analysis covered 2,130 news items across all the main television channels during May 2006.

We found 286 stories in which young people were the main subject of the news item. Twenty eight percent of these stories focused on young celebrities such as footballers Wayne Rooney and Theo Walcott.

This mirrored the wider role that young people play in commercial culture.

The overwhelming majority of the rest of the stories, 82 percent, focused on young people as either perpetrators or victims of crime.

Violent crime made up 90 percent of these crime related stories.

Across the entire sample violent crime figured in 304 cases. And in 42 percent of these, offenders or suspects were young people.

Yet while looming large in the popular imagination as threats

to people and property, young people themselves have little voice in news world.

Young people accounted for only 1 percent of all the sources for interviews and opinions that were on offer over the sample.

Predictably, crime was the major topic on which they were asked to speak.

These results show that even television news – our most public service orientated source of information and knowledge – is in effect turning young people into non-citizens to be feared.

This is not an argument for “good news” stories about young people, although that could do little harm.

This is about the one dimensional picture of young people’s lives which the media and news offers to us.

Where are the stories about how young people are affected by problems in housing, education, health, unemployment, parental abuse, politics and so forth? And where are even the most banal indicators in the coverage of crime that point beyond the individual person or event?

This encourages fear and condemnation rather than any understanding or criticism of some of the major political and economic institutions that are responsible for the tearing the social fabric apart.

The crisis around young people will only get worse if the quality of public debate does not get better.


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