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RAW Preview > Flash Mobs and Smart Mobs: A Study in Social Network Coordination and Mobilization

March 22, 2012

Janet Montealvo (@janetmtweets) will be presenting her paper entitled “Flash Mobs and Smart Mobs: A Study in Social Network Coordination and Mobilization” during the Social Media and Activism panel at 9:30 a.m. See the complete RAW schedule here.

Silent discos, pillow fight days, and zombie walks are only a few types of flash mobs that we have seen pop up in the past decade. While a number of flash mobs are performed as acts of amusement, they can be used to promote a political agenda as well.

In 2006, some youths in Belarus were arrested for participating in a flash mob that consisted of nothing more than gathering in a public square while eating ice cream. The peaceful flash mob protested the contested Presidential elections, and it had seized the opportunity to publicly criticize the government’s prohibition against unauthorized group actions.

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.

Flash mobs and smart mobs organize people quickly and efficiently by means of social media tools. A group that feels the need to express its opinions can assemble and form in any culture or climate. E-mails, text messages, and social media platforms have lowered the cost of communication so dramatically that they have led to faster coordination with less notification needed in advance.

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