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Some of you may have heard that we had “Instagram riots” here in Gothenburg a few days ago. Since I live in Gothenburg and have a fascination for media-ignited riots, I wrote this extensive summary of the events.

First of all some context on Swedish riot history. It’s not that uncommon but these riots have been related to two previous riots in particular that’s good to know about. First, the hot line riots of 1982 that I wrote about at this blog a few months ago and second the riots in Gothenburg 2001 when George Bush visited the city. Nice video summary here with Enya soundtrack

What happened this time around was that a person (a 17 yo girl attending Plusgymnasiet (The Plus High School, a privately owned and managed school) was suspected and got police protection) started an Instagram account called “gbgorroz” (“gbg” is short for Gothenburg, “orroz” is a swedishification of a turkish word meaning whore) asking people to name and shame the sluts of Gothenburg and what slutty things they have done. The account gained about 6000 followers and posted about a hundred pictures and description about “sluts” of Gothenburg (mostly female but also male, often for being “gays”. Age 12-18) and their alleged sex acts before it was shut down. In an unexpected turn of events, the last pictures posted was screenshots of the inbox of the account where you could see who had submitted what “slut” – shaming the shamers.

Somehow it was revealed who was behind the account – or at least someone was accused – and people decided to “take revenge”. A rumour started spreading that there would be “chaos” at this high school the morning after. And there was even a facebook event called “World War 3 at Plusgymnasiet”. About 500 people showed up the day after (18/12) and tried to enter the school. I guess most to just watch THE CHAOS unfold. Some were there to beat up the girl that started it (among them people who had submitted to the account and had been exposed in the screenshots). Others to beat up the people who had submitted to the account. Some even might have been there to beat up someone for what they allegedly had done. And yet more just there to take the opportunity to start some fights.

Let me show you what it looked like.

Here’s a video of the crowd moving in on the school.

More roaming crowds:

Quite disturbing video of a girl being chased down, tackled and kicked while laying down (don’t know the reason):

More crowds, good flow here:

Here’s someone getting beaten down in the background while a TV-station is doing an interview:

Here’s a good video from the local news paper of when the police arrive at the school, the crowd disperses and then attacks the police with snow balls (!)… LINK

After this, the riots – for some reason, probably many reasons – started drifting to the nearby and centrally located mall, Nordstan. It continued with more fights among the christmas shoppers, who hid inside the stores, and people started jumping on cars and throwing rocks at the police.

There was also continual crowds roaming the day after (19/12) at other high schools. I guess either to take more revenge on people involved or continue fights that was not finished the day before. Several high schools was shut down one or two days after to protect students.

In conclusion:
I don’t think there really was much of rioting going on, except some stones being thrown at the police. A riot has mostly externally directed energies, towards an outside enemy, or just the surrounding environment in general. This was more a big crowd roaming around looking for people (also in the same crowd) to beat up. So you had individual fights and beat downs within the crowd itself. In other words a very inward directed energy. I also think there was lots of different aggressions coming out. One could say that it was a noble cause, reacting against the public shaming of women, but it could just as well have been because people felt that *these particular* girls did not deserve to be humiliated this way or that *these particular* boys were not gays. So I don’t know what to think about that really. Was the reaction against public shaming or against false accusations of promiscuity (which is then still condemned)?

What’s good is that most people have afterwards focused on violence, gender issues, culture around sexuality and bullying, and preventing this kind of behaviour, rather than condemning “the internet” for what happened. So I think the debate about teenagers and internet use have matured a bit. People are also very fast to report accounts (new ones have popped up), take screenshots as evidence and report them to the police. So we’re starting to learn how to react to these things without panic (except the 500 ppl strong mob, that is…). Yesterday (20/12) there was also a demonstration against sexual harassments in the center of the city.

That’s all from the Instagram riots in Gothenburg, Sweden 2012.

As a bonus I give you a video of an angry mob of Justin Bieber fans in Stockholm attacking some provocateurs :)

Posted on December 21, 2012



  1. Marcus says:

    Someone, it might have been in Aftonbladet, wrote that journalists and most of the kids he talked to were all there for the exact same reason: Just to see what was going on.

    That is probably just about right. Most of the people in the so called riot wasn’t there for any particular reason at all. They had no intention and no direction. Just checking things out. Like the hotline-“riots”, I guess. Others came perhaps looking for a fight – but any fight, with anyone. And so on.

    I guess that’s how a social-media-induced “riot” or riot will always happen. It’s not necessarily a gathering of people with a common goal, or conflicting goals for that matter. Social media are powerful tools for interpersonal and “operative” communication (organizing), but at the same time that communication is public and used as information by a lot of others.

  2. Huh says:

    Why were the sexual harassment demonstration signs in English? Who was their audience?

  3. […] On December 18th, an Instagram account in Gothenburg, Sweden ignited a media-identified riot resulting in the detention of 27 individuals. A more intensive explanation, via Free Art & Technology: […]

  4. anonymous says:

    Is this riot happened in Sweden? because the majority of the riots definitely aren’t Swedish, you know white people with blond hair and stuff like that.

  5. monki says:

    Huh: Good question. English is understood very well in Sweden so i still think it can be directed to a Swedish audience. The reason it’s in English is probably because it is a well known slogan borrowed from the international feminist movement.

    anonymous: I doubt that the majority of riots happen in one particular country at all.

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