At a time when the power of new media is quickly supplanting -- and even out-reporting -- traditional media, the "Boycott Dirty Blondes" Facebook page was a poster child of a new era.
It was explosive, fast, and exclusively crowd sourced. In just one day on Facebook, it crested an incredible surge of public vitriol aimed at Dirty Blondes following its bouncers' beat down of a patron, and netted 8,300 likes. It was a testament to the power of new media, dispatching scoops and sussing out sources with an army that was thousands strong.
But it's also displayed many of new media's weaknesses.
Sometime yesterday, Facebook disabled the page, which hasn't allowed the administrators of Boycott Dirty Blondes to upload any more posts.
When everything hinges on immediacy and people quickly move onto other things, that 12 hours has been debilitating. "We believe this may be due to an attack from people who want us silenced," one page director wrote to Miami blogger Carlos Miller, who posted their statement on his Facebook timeline. "By 'flagging' our content they may have been able to spark an automated ban from us posting by Facebook."
The statement continues: "Facebook has banned the page's administrators for 12 hrs. This is not a time we can afford to stop reporting the updates to the situation. We WILL RETURN in full force as soon as Facebook lets us back in."
But by then will it be too late?
This major weakness of viral media is also one of its greatest strengths. Certain pop sensations can subsume everything on one's newsfeed in a wild rush -- but they always quickly disappear. That's because the outrage/humor/awe/heartache typically aroused from that event doesn't usually provide any additional fodder beyond that isolated incident. It's like a flame that burns through one gasoline-soaked piece of cotton, but, without anything else to inflame, quickly dies.
And when that happens, everyone moves on to the next bump.
In one day, the page dedicated to boycotting Dirty Blondes dispatched dozens of posts. For that day alone, if you had "liked" them, everything on your Facebook became dedicated to their mission, and that original anger you felt the first time you watched those three bouncers gang beat and head stomp a patron rushed back.
Then, perhaps, they took it too far. The boycott page disseminated unverified information -- posting bouncers' identities, condemning them for having criminal records -- without having all the facts. It sank them into the same problems that plagued Reddit following the Boston Bombing, when users misidentified the wrong suspects.
Now, it's a day later. And the administrators tell New Times this morning they'll soon be back -- with more troubling anecdotes to share.
All of which should offer an interesting test for new media. Can 12 hours of silence kill what had been -- just two days ago -- an inferno of online rage?
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