« March 2006 | Main | May 2006 »

30/04/2006

Blogging New York vigilantes head for UK

Last time New York exported its vigilantes to London it was in the guide of the hilarious Guardian Angels, this time it's just an idea backed up by a blog and the cameraphone technology now wielded by a large number of the poplace.

In a report in this morning's Observer, David Smith, the paper's technology correspondent, profiles a site called hollabacknyc.com which people can post pictures and accounts of being harassed in public.

There's something very encouraging about people using social media to vent their anger and make a statement about just how unacceptable this kind of behaviour is. Ironically one of the posts on the Holla Back website is about a group of men who are videoing women's backsides - and there's a picture of them captured by one of their victims.

At the same time as celebrating this project, I have a quiet sense of unease about citizen media vigilantism, as it were, as a potential trend.

Imagine vigilante groups that are writing about suspected criminals, imagine a citizen journalism version of the stunt pulled by Rekbekah Wade when she first stepped up as editor of the News of the World in the UK and started publishing sex offender pictures and addresses  in the paper, inspiring riots and allegedly damaging some police investigations. Admittedly, in the US they already publish Frappr maps of offenders and I don't know if that has increased violent vigilantism there.