A really interesting thing happened yesterday morning. I had the advantageous position to follow the case of Janos Szolnoki, a Hungarian guy, who entered to a competition on the official site of Nescafé Hungary. What’s so peculiar about this? Well, he asked for some help from 9gag.
9gag is a popular website filled with funny pictures and well known stick figure like rage comics and other stuff like that. The new upcoming generation created this site and this “culture”. I say culture, because it has some really interesting details to it. I am not a professor in this field, and I really don’t know too much about psychology or sociology, or the effects of the crowds, but what happened made me think.
The world is changing rapidly, and we don’t really know the effects of it yet. Janos posted a picture to 9gag asking the community to help him win a contest and win $5000, so he can help his little brother who is disabled. He wanted a Christmas that he’ll never forget. He seemed like a nice fellow and he had good intentions and he needed 3000 likes on Facebook so 9gag came to the rescue: with over 47 thousand likes. That is just simply impressive, and in the light of later events this was only the beginning and nothing compared to what this online community achieved.
Janos was banned from the competition. A really bad choice from Nescafé: the rage of the whole Internet came down from the heavens – the great fear happened: the sky fell on them, even a little magic potion couldn’t help on the situation. So Janos was not in the final 30 – from whom 5 competitors would win each $5000. I won’t discuss the contest in depth here. Let’s just say that the jury had every right not to select Janos as a finalist, but they should’ve done something with a contestant that had over 40 thousand people behind him. And Nescafé had a pretty misleading slogen: “the two contestant with the most likes will certainly win”. They left out: if they are selected as a finalist by our own jury.
But what did 9gag do?
And here comes the important, scary, glorious part – or call it what you will. The 9gag Army came, saw and conquered. In just one day Janos gained 25 thousand likes on Facebook for this new group. Not to mention the birth of the Facebook page: Occupy unfairNes-cafe. People were outraged: they posted on the page of Nescafé Hungary, in just minutes all hell broke lose, the page was spammed by the second, it was like they hit it with a heavy machine gun and a few tanks, bombs, cannons, everything they had and they did it continuously for 24 hours and still counting. But this is not all: They posted the same thing over and over again to the official Nescafé page, to CNN and other pages all over the world, making everybody know about what happened, and demanding the $5000 to Janos.
They reached their goal, slowly everything is returning back to normal. Nescafé reassured everybody that they are working on the situation. They contacted Janos and offered him 3 things, from which he did not yet choose anything. Also 9gag offered Janos money as well, suggesting to him to open a Paypal account to gather the $5000 for charity. Everything turned out great.
What do you want to say with all this?
This whole mess made me think. The Internet has real power now. Or I should say the community on the Internet. They forced a big company to their knees, and all this came from one person. And maybe he wasn’t even right, but the online community was outraged and that’s it. But this is a fearsome thing if you think about it – I don’t want to say anything bad about Janos, I truly think that he’s a nice fellow, and he keeps calming people down on his Facebook page, saying be funny, be creative, don’t be rude. He has good intentions, but I played with the thought for a bit: what if this power gets into the hands of a bad person? This whole thing can now have an effect on governments, on the economy. And it is hardly controllable. They can show their strength 24/7 being on different parts of the world, they can force anything.
9gag started to fight back, but more people joined quickly! Facebook and Twitter are pages where you can easily get information on stuff happening right now, and you can join in a fight that’s happening. I searched Twitter yesterday with the word Nescafé and Nescafail and everybody was talking about this. The Internet connects people really quickly. So a fully equipped army was ready in just minutes. Just imagine if this fell into the wrong hands. One Tweet and millions are ready to follow an order. Scary. Maybe impossible? Who knows…
Janos was in the right place at the right time. Occupy Wall Street is happening now and obviously people are more eager to force big companies to pay up. But this whole thing showed us that in just 24 hours an online community, that’s seemingly spread all over the world and is not organised, can achieve a victory like this: it can force a big-shot company to deal with only one person – so they won’t lose customers, and they won’t have a bad reputation.
This is a huge force and it only foreshadows the things to come. I’d really like to read some interesting stuff on this subject. The power of the Internet, or the psychology of the Internet or the crowds on the Internet, the movement of this. So if you have anything to share or say about this, please do it below!