Christchurch Underbelly: When crowds turn into vigilantes


via GP Forums – pixelation by WOBH

Yesterday I ran a story about a Christchurch man who lost his smartphone.  It was stolen, but the thief didn’t know that any photos and videos taken with it were automatically uploaded to the Dropbox account of the original owner.

He shared this with his on-line community at GPForums, and what happened next was predictable:  He was asked to share the photos, and subsequently the video.  

The GP community then did what the Internet does best:  they started to dig for clues.  And they did an awesome job:  isolating the number plate of a 4WD ute as well as the actual location of the arson seen in one in the videos.

That was solid work.

But then things got out of hand.

Anyone who followed our Source attribution link will have seen that those involved on the periphery of this amateur sleuthing effort then turned to trying to find who all the people in the photos and videos are.  A natural progression, but one without anyone at the controls.


via GP Forums – pixelation by WOBH

Suddenly, all the good solid work based on fact turned into wild guess work, with people’s real names, links to their Facebook pages and other unconfirmed details were published for all to see.

This is where I drew the line in reporting on their progress.  The fun had now turned serious.

Keeping in mind, we’re dealing with Molotov Cocktail throwing scum here, the idea of publishing the photos, names and Facebook pages of the “suspects” to the public was never a good idea, and mixing in names and photos of people that may not even be involved required some degree of triage as to what to post and what to leave out.

The real problem?  The Sleuths at GP Forum still don’t know who actually took and/or operated the smartphone when the photos and videos were taken.  All the photos and personal details freely bandied about are of the people in the photos and videos, or people thought to be linked to those other names previously published for all to see.

There is one thing the GP Forum sleuths and I do agree on:  It’s time for the Police to get involved – before something happens that can’t be undone.


via GP Forums – pixelation by WOBH


H/T: kgdl, Source: GP Forums


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.