There was a mass of news back in August about the London riots and how social media (especially Twitter) and the BlackBerry Messenger service (BBM) enabled the rioters to organize themselves via broadcast messages and tweets.
After discovering a lot of rioters got busted from their Tweets and BBM messages (which are of course traceable) – some smart fella game up with a new form of instant messaging anonymously. It works in a geographic location and allows you to broadcast messages within a certain locality that expire after a certain time.
This comes not long after the Anonymous social network Anon+/AnonPlus was announced back in July 2011.
After discovering that BBM and their Twittery playthings fed straight into the hands of the cops, smartphone-toting revolutionaries have taken up a new type of instant messaging – Vibe.
Like Twitter in that it is open and lets you mass-message, Vibe is unlike Twitter in that all messages or “vibes” are anonymous. You can set how far you want them to be available too – from 15 metres to global.
The messages self-destruct after a set period of time: from 15 minutes to forever. That makes it much more attractive to those who want to bring down the Man via the medium of street protest, but don’t want the Man, or their mothers, or the police looking at twitpics of themselves jumping up and down on burning bin-bags.
According to the New York papers, Vibe is now the instant messaging app of choice for the protesters at Manhattan’s #OccupyWallStreet.
It’s an interesting concept and I do think it has a certain place amongst anarchists, activists street protesters and rioters. Case in point – it’s been picked up by the Wall Street protesters, you can search the Twitter hashtag #OccupyWallStreet to see what’s going on with them.
If you have no idea what it’s about at all, check Wikipedia here – Occupy Wall Street
The application itself has a very ‘innocent’ description on iTunes – “Discover and join the vibe around your city, neighborhood, or building. Chat anonymously with people nearby without necessarily knowing them!”
But we all know full well, that’s not it’s main purpose.
Though it is innocently described on the iTunes store as a good way to chat to other people near you at football games or conferences, developer Hazem Sayed is actively keen for his app to be adopted by the protesters – flying out to the Manhattan protest from California with leaflets about his app explaining its uses.
It seems to be catching on:
The NY Daily News interviewed protester Drew Hornbein, a member of the camp’s Internet Committee, who explained its uses to the paper:
“Let’s say you’re protesting and someone up ahead sees that the cops are getting ready to kettle people, they can send out this vibe that only lasts a few minutes that says, ‘Cops are kettling’,” said Hornbein.
“It’s anonymous too, so not only are you able to send out relevant information to a small radius, but it also disappears, there’s no record of it, so no one can come after the person who sent it.”
It’s a pretty neat use of technology I have to say and I’m wondering if it’s going to picked up by the community and groups such as Anonymous.
The downside, it’s an iOS app so if Apple gets put under pressure or feels the app is being used under nefarious circumstances – they can just pull the plug on it.
You can read more about the app on iTunes here:
Source: The Register