Flash mobs and smart mobs: a study in social network coordination and mobilization
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Social media platforms both online and through mobile devices utilize new media to strengthen social networks in order to promote human rights to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. When individuals assemble there is a collective intelligence inherent in the organization of the group. One of the most popular models in mass coordination and mobilization is the trend known as a flash mob which uses ordinary channels of communication to collaborate and coordinate without the general public or authorities knowing about it beforehand. The mobs that use the power of social network mobilization to prompt change are often referred to as smart mobs. On January 21, 2001, a smart mob in the Philippines effectively used text messages to generate a protest that led to the fall of President Joseph Estrada. The simple text messages including “Go 2EDSA, Wear blck.” reached more than a million citizens as witnessed by their participation in the silent protest. In this paper I will argue that these mobs use the power of social network mobilization to express their point of view and to prompt change. I will also seek to answer questions concerning the formation and rationale of these mobs. Why do individuals participate in these mobs? How do these mobs measure their success? What motivates the individuals who conceive and instigate these smart mobs? What happens when that power is wielded for unscrupulous ends?
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