Thursday, May 7, 2009

No to the demolition of Stork Fountain!

I just listened to a podcast of CBC's Spark with Nora Young, and it started out with the most interesting story about an experiment by a Danish university professor. Anders Colding-Jørgensen created a real Facebook group about a fictitious cause: “No to the demolition of the Stork Fountain

Although there was no threat of the Copenhagen landmark actually being destroyed, a fact which he referenced in the discussion page, the group was joined by thousands. Even though some people realized what was happening, they were powerless to stop it. Someone posted on the wall "Do not join this group - it is a Hoax!", and even included a screen shot of the disclaimer in the photo section of the group, but it continued to grow to a membership of over 20,000 people.

When asked why they joined the group, most people said that the fact that the group was so large gave it credibility. They risked nothing by joining and had nothing at stake, so they didn't bother doing any research into the issue or opposing views - They just joined and moved on.

I'm not really sure how much credibility social media groups have in the first place, but this experiment shows we should give them even less credence.


  1. LOL, that's awesome. I've always wondered why stupid facebook groups grow so big, so quickly

  2. Yeah, I'm always skeptical about facebook groups (but curiously, more about groups with <1000 users than for medium and bigger sized groups) I have <300 "friends" on fb, so even if I created a group about myself, I'd exect to have a reasonably-sized group in no time at all.

    By the way, have you ever been to that fountain? It's quite pretty!

  3. Hi Mohammed,

    Thanks for the comment! I think there may have been a small typo in your post (<300 instead of >300), but I totally appreciate what you're saying.

    I have indeed seen the fountain! That's not my picture, but I was there in 2006.