flash mobs – drunken, violent and racist

Flash mobs are really cool, eh? Those riots that helped democracy in the Philippines? Or peaceful rallies, organised through SMSes rapidly spreading from individual to individual? Of course we all knew that technology isn’t good or evil in itself, but the riots in Sydney are the first example I’ve noticed of really bad uses of flash mobs and SMS rallying.

Sixteen people were charged yesterday in relations to Sunday’s violence, when a 5000-strong alcohol-fuelled mob, some waving flags and chanting racist slogans, chased and bashed people of Middle Eastern appearance at Cronulla beach.
The trouble was sparked by an attack on surf lifesavers at the beach the week before, and text messages calling for retaliation. (The Age, 13/12/05)

The violence has been fuelled by a series of text messages urging revenge attacks for the assaults on men and women of Middle Eastern appearance by a 5000-strong crowd at Cronulla on Sunday. A separate series of text messages call on locals to defend Sydney’s suburban beach strip. (The Australian, 13/12/05 – this one includes photos of more SMSes)

“All Arabs unite as one, we will never back down to anyone the aussie’s (sic) will feel the full force of the arabs as one `brothers in arms’,” the SMS said.
“Unite now lets (sic) show them who’s boss `destroy’ everything gather at cronulla . . . spread the message to all Arabs.” (Herald Sun, 13/12/05

SMS text messages circulating in Sydney have called for renewed violence. One congratulated Australians for the fight they put up against the Lebanese, but called for more attacks.
“We’ll show them! It’s on again Sunday,” the message said. (The Age, 13/12/05)

Unfortunately, these mobs don’t sound very much like Howard Rheingold’s optimistically named smart mobs.

13. December 2005 by Jill

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