As most of you already know, last Friday was the infamous Project X party in Haren. A 15 year old girl made a birthday event on Facebook and forgot to make it a private message. The whole world could see there was a party and thousands of people said they would come. Eventually 2000 party people came to the unprepared small village and it ended in an all-out riot. Traditional media made many articles and reports of the event and the main question was, how could this happen?
Traditional media blamed social media for all this because the invite happened on Facebook and the attention grew through Twitter. However on the Dutch talk show ‘De Wereld Draait Door’ last night I saw an interesting discussion. Internet expert Danny Mekic did some research about this Project X event and came with some interesting conclusions.
He pointed out that the attention through Twitter only happened the day before and on the day of the event and except for the invitation, there was almost no chatter about it on Facebook. Mekic blamed the traditional media for the attention that this event got, because the first article found in newspapers about this event was from 4 days before the event. The mayor of Haren did not know how to handle this event, and came up with some strange idea’s to keep the people away. He first said that there was no party, and then he said that they arranged a football field for the party (so apparently there was a party?). He then removed the street name signs to disorientate the people who came to the village, so that they could not find the party that was not there in the first place but then it was, on a football field. This very unclear reporting al happened through the traditional media at talk shows and the news. The only moments when people were talking about it on Twitter were the moments after the mayor said something on TV.
Mekic tries to explain that it is not the social media who was to blame but the key-figures of this event, like the mayor. By talking on TV and giving interviews in newspapers he asked for a lot of unnecessary attention. And by saying he would try to disorientate the people he only made it worse because he then made it exciting to go there and find the place.
The riots that happened were a very sad event. The damage to village was about 1 million euro’s and an elderly man of 80 years old got abused. It seems that Facebook and Twitter are the scapegoats for this event but weren’t they only the communication channels, like a telephone or message in a bottle? People only talked about in on Twitter when the traditional media paid attention to it. So who is to blame? Facebook, Twitter, or the people who paid so much attention to it like the mayor or the traditional media?