Should social networks be held responsible for flash mobs?Thank you to everyone for helping my middle school debate team get ready for their first debate. This is the last topic! I'd like a...

Should social networks be held responsible for flash mobs?Thank you to everyone for helping my middle school debate team get ready for their first debate. This is the last topic! I'd like a variety of opinions and sources, please! Thanks in advance. :)

Asked on by litteacher8

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boblawrence's profile pic

boblawrence | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted on

Should social networks be held responsible for flash mobs?Thank you to everyone for helping my middle school debate team get ready for their first debate. This is the last topic! I'd like a variety of opinions and sources, please! Thanks in advance. :)

As othes have stated and I agree, blaming the social network is akin to shooting the messanger.  In days past, if someone incited a riot by means of an inflammatory mass mailing, she was held liable, not the postal service.

The more interesting question revolves around the speed and ease of mass communication afforded by social networks.  A mass mailing campaign requires planning, effort and expense.  With social networks, on the other hand, a single individual on a momentary whim can communicate with thousands...for free!  Given the number of people using social networks, plus the fact that there are a lot of nuts out there, it is amazing to me that there so few occurrences of evil doings. The question I would pose is this:  Given the ease and availability widespread distribution of information or misinformation via social networks, is it appropriate to apply libel laws to social media? We have seen examples of the prosecution of social media bullies who have precipitated suicides, but has any social media user been civilly sued for libel?

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pacorz | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

I absolutely agree with the other posters that there is no reasonable justification for holding the social networking site responsible for a flash mob's behavior. However I do think that if a social networking site was used to organize a mob that did harm, the site in question should be required to open their files and cooperate fully with legal authorities in attempting to identify the organizers and participants.

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larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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I  must agree with the above posts that it is the members of the flash mob themselves who are responsible for their irresponsible behavior. Social media is just the means by which they communicate with each other. It is entirely likely that were it not for the presence of social media, they would find another way to communicate and/or congregate. Social media does not promote violence; nor does it condone it in any way. As was noted above, Facebook has an explicit disclaimer which prohibits its use for illegal purposes. This however, is like prohibiting a gun purchaser from robbing a bank; still, we don't hold the gun manufacturer responsible because the owner chose to act irresponsibly. It should be pointed out that social media can be used for laudable purposes as well as improper ones. The fact that it is used for flash mobs is more a testimonial to the herd behavior of our younger population than an indictment of the dangerousness of facebook.

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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I think it would be foolish to do so, not to mention perhaps a dangerous legal precedent. In addition, while many people find flash mobs offensive, many others find them artistic, so I don't see where there is a real threat posed by these groups. If social networking sites were used to plot violence, for example, it is still hard to hold the sites themselves responsible. In that case, they should simply make reasonable attempts to monitor how their sites are used and to report any possible threats to authorities.
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wannam | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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I think the members should be responsible for the mob and not the social media network. The media network is under an ethical obligation to keep their site safe and secure, but they cannot control people's actions. I think social media sites should keep bullying, illegal activities, and groups promoting violence or destruction off their sites. Of course, most social networks do attempt to curb these types of posts. Many flash mobs are little more than dance groups or silly stunts. However, some are much more violent and dangerous. Some cities and governments are working to find other ways to block these types of posts such as cell phone blockers. Again, it is not the responsibility of the social media network, but rather the people and the governments themselves.
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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I agree with accessteacher. While social networks make flash mobs easier, I do not think they can be held responsible for them. While flash mobs are promoted on the sites, through members, I cannot recall a time where a site promoted a flash mob to promote the site itself. Instead, members, alone, promote them.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that we have to agree that social networking makes it easier to organise flash mobs. Certainly the use of such sites as twitter was key in the recent London riots, for example. However, at the same time I agree with other editors that we cannot hold social networking sites responsible for such crimes. At the end of the day, social networking gives us a neutral medium that we can use as we want to.

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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I don't know that there would be any way to do so—or would we have the right to do so, anymore than a Walmart selling the last "Tickle-Me-Elmo" on Black Friday could be held responsible for people participating in mob-like behavior. Could Lady Gaga be held responsible for someone being hurt as people race for an autograph or shove to get in line for tickets?

Flash mobs are like a strange organism that has multiple parts that move in tandem with the same goal in mind. Ideas have always influenced people to do life-altering things: Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, Mary Wollstonecraft, and—sadly—even Adolf Hitler or Osama bin Laden. Praise or condemnation may be forthcoming as society's norms dictate, however, the idea is not what creates change, but the willingness of people to act on these ideas. Fortunately, there are many ideas that change the world as we know it—for the better. And more ideas that arise in the face of "insanity" to survive the horrific results that some ideas create.

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justaguide | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

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#3 is right. In the terms of usage page of Facebook, I could find at least two clauses that do not allow its use for illegal purposes.

You will not use Facebook to do anything unlawful, misleading, malicious, or discriminatory.

You will not post content or take any action on Facebook that infringes or violates someone else's rights or otherwise violates the law.

I'm sure those who organize flash mobs, if they have a conscience, can in no way justify their actions, after they are done, even to themselves leave aside the Law.

Though I do find it a little hypocritical that we're discussing the use of social media as a tool to commit crime here, while the same is praised in the uprising of pro-democracy protesters in Africa and the Middle East. After all, in both cases it is being used for unlawful purposes, whatever the law may be in the nations involved.

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vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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I agree with pohnpei397; I see no legal or moral responsibility by social networks for the ways in which people use or abuse them. If criminal acts are committed as a result of the misuse of a social network, the network may be legally obligated to assist legal authorities in providing information to help track the law-breakers, but I am not sure about this.  It may be that most social networks already include clauses in their contracts with users that give the networks this option.In that case, the law-breaker may already have agreed to allow his/her information to be handed over to authorities.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I don't see how they could be legally or ethically responsible for flash mobs.  That would be like blaming car companies for flash mobs if people came to the gathering places in cars.  Or maybe it's like blaming a restaurant if a bunch of mobsters gathers there and plans a crime.  It's the people who are responsible for the crimes, not the media that they use to plan it.

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maryrojo0000 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

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Should social networks be held responsible for flash mobs?Thank you to everyone for helping my middle school debate team get ready for their first debate. This is the last topic! I'd like a variety of opinions and sources, please! Thanks in advance. :)

Get your own arguments. If your students can't think of them, you're not doing something right. You shouldn't to go gallumphing on the internet asking other people for arguments. Do some real research for Pete's sake, doesn't count as research, or even a survey. You're just acting lazy.

 Flash mobs started off in 2003 as peaceful and often humorous acts of public performance, such as mass dance routines or street pillow fights. But in recent years, the term has taken a darker twist as criminals exploit the anonymity of crowds, using social networking to coordinate everything from robberies to fights to general chaos. Anyway, In Arlington VA, Carpet Cleaning Proz strive to make our residential and commercial clients the happiest clients of a carpet cleaners that can be. If you need carpet cleaners visit us now Carpet Cleaning Arlington VA.

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brent00 | eNotes Newbie

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As a question of law, this is like asking if a telephone company can be held responsible for the committing of a crime just because two conspirators engaged such while conspiring to commit their crime, and then go out to commit that crime. Was the phone company complicit in the act? The phone company has no control over how people use their communication platform. So, the answer should be obvious.

Social media is but another type of neutral platform. The users of that platform are responsible for the actions they commit, and to infer anything other than that (eg. that the platform is somehow responsible) is pure creative thinking outside the realm of objective fact.

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kinghtalexis | (Level 2) eNoter

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I didnt know people have a problem with flash mobs, its not that they do something wrong, unless they are offending someone. But seriously speaking you cant, why would you blame a social networking site for flash mob. Its like blaming a cycle for falling down. But yeah, social networking are although not responsible but they have the duty of atleast banning or suspending such accounts which are involved in anything which is offensive.

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internetmarketing102 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

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I agree with pohnpei397, i dont see how they could be legally responsible for flash mobs. I think the members should be responsible for the mob and not the social media network.

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ducks-n-hangul | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

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Should social networks be held responsible for flash mobs?Thank you to everyone for helping my middle school debate team get ready for their first debate. This is the last topic! I'd like a variety of opinions and sources, please! Thanks in advance. :)

Get your own arguments. If your students can't think of them, you're not doing something right. You shouldn't to go gallumphing on the internet asking other people for arguments. Do some real research for Pete's sake, doesn't count as research, or even a survey. You're just acting lazy.

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