November 11th, 2010 by Chan Chi-Loong under Commentary

Social media and “hacking” in Singapore: Singaporeans react to 369 gangs

Recently, hacking has taken on a different meaning in Singapore.

The gang murder at Pasir Ris Downtown East two weeks back and the slashing of seven youths at Bukit Panjang just this week sent Singapore’s Twitter, Facebook and blogs into overdrive.

Ever though we just started monitoring the Bukit Panjang incident about a day ago, we’ve collected more than 500 posts — in a day! –chattering about gangs in Singapore. Posts are starting to taper off a bit as the news cycle moves on, but there is still a significant amount of chatter.

To do a thorough analysis would take too much time, but just by skimming the posts and using basic tools and filters, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are basically three themes:

Are we safe in Singapore?

The first reaction is that Singaporeans are generally shocked that this is happening. There is a significant amount of posts lamenting about Singapore’s safety and checking up on friends and family, esp. in the Bukit Panjang area. On Twitter alone there are more than 70 of such posts since yesterday afternoon.

Examples:
It still scare me that im meeting my girls where the bukit panjang slashing takes place. Need to stay safe..
HannaFernaldo

Slashing case at bukit panjang now. Wtff, singapore is getting unsafee! Really unsafeeeeee.
SriAtiqaah

Who are these stupid hooligans?

Then there are the Singaporean who are angry at these idiots and wondering why the hell this is happening in Singapore. About 40+ twitter posts.

Examples:
What is wrong w the youths in Singapore today? Downtown East 23 youths arrested, Bukit Panjang 6 youths, all between 15-23yrs old? Why???
thamwaihoong

wtfcuk .. singapore getting worse … whats with these gang stuffs man ? slashing people for no reason .. -.-
haarishakishor

What is happening to SINGAPORE man??!!! Gang armed with parangs…going on slashing spree??? Downtown east murder not enough ar??
ItsBIGBANGyg

They deserve to die… or at least kanna punished jialat jialat

A final last theme is for our police to catch these folks and whack these idiots. The ST forums are more negative, but on Twitter people are quite happy that our police have already caught some of the perps who carried out the gang slashings yesterday. Practically no one was sympathetic to these folks except for one blog post I found who said we should punish but not sentence them severely. The argument is that the misguided kids are victims as well.

Examples:
wow wow wow! 6 suspects caught for the bukit panjang one! And one more murderer caught! Not bad ah quite efficient.
ccliAlexis

Bukit panjang slashers arrested. HAHAHA not feelimg so cool now eh losers
NickytheKING

For this study, we listened to the social media based on a mixture of keywords: “bukit panjang”, “gang”, “369″, “slashing”, “Singapore”. Of course, we collected far more posts that just twitter — there were lots of news, blogs, forum postings, FB entries as well. But twitter is an excellent barometer for expressing and collecting sentiment, which is why I often start with this first.

Tidbits from the social media

Some other interesting facts that were brought to my attention by reading the posts. You can learn lots simply by reading things that people say!

– “369″ is now trending on twitter, and there’s hashtag #369 if you want to follow the conversations.

– There’s an up-to-date Wiki page on 369 “Salakau”

– The youngest kid involved in carrying out the gang attack is just 15. Sigh.

– A few super funny posts. Ironic humour at its best. Examples:

Ah beng: OI , YOU FROM 369? Me: No , I from 257. AH BENG: GOT THIS GANG MEH? Me: I tot you asking for my block number….* RUN*
StevenLiew

<3 RT @leecomet: @thesyueffect SYU YOU LIVE IN BUKIT PANJANG IF ANYONE ATTACK YOU CALL ME AH I WILL SNORLAX BODY SLAM THEM MOARRRRRRRRRRR!!
thesyueffect

– There were a few twitter posts by users who thought that a gang incident had happened at AMK (Ang Mo Kio), but it quickly died down as the story was not corroborated. Social media can be used to spread hysteria when people are agitated, but it is also somewhat self-correcting.

They probably mistook this for another slashing incident that happened a year ago, blogged Jayannelcn.

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