Understanding the Internet Pitchfork Mob: Internal Revolutionary Activity in Self-Regulated Online Communities
conference contributionposted on 03.09.2020 by CO McRae, Jean-Gregoire Bernard, Jocelyn Cranefield
Any type of content contributed to an academic conference, such as papers, presentations, lectures or proceedings.
© 2016 University of Wollongong, Faculty of Business. All rights reserved. Research into organised online protest typically focuses on how digital activism empowers social movements. But what if an online community is rebelling against its platform owners? This study seeks to identify the trajectory of internally focused revolutionary activity in self-regulated online communities. Based on an analysis of three cases (Reddit, 2015; Mozilla, 2014, and Skyrim, 2015) it identifies six stages of revolution: incident, reaction, mobilization, action, negotiation, and a return to ‘normality’ with a new power equilibrium. For each stage, key events, relations between the community and platform managers, and the ways in which power is enacted through online means, are identified. This preliminary model for online community revolution offers potential for further work that has diagnostic, predictive and ameliorative value. Relations with online communities are of significant value in an era in which many platform-related business models are reliant on voluntary contributions of self-regulating online communities.