Heroes or Hooligans? Media Portrayal of StopXam (Stop a Douchebag) Vigilantes in Russia
Main Article Content
StopXam, Digital Vigilantism, Citizen-Led Justice, Russia, Traditional Media, Qualitative Content Analysis, Framing
Several state-supported digital vigilante groups emerged in Russia at the downturn of the pro-Kremlin youth group Nashi (Ours), when its former commissars formed issuespecific movements to counter perceived legal and moral offences through exposure of targets on social media. One of such groups is StopXam (Stop a Douchebag), specializing in road-traffic and parking violations. StopXam participants confront the drivers and retaliate by placing stickers that read “I spit on everyone I drive where I want” on the targets’ windshields. The retaliation is often accompanied by verbal and physical fighting; the process is filmed, edited, and shared on YouTube, receiving millions of views. While digital media made such practices possible, traditional broadcasters maintain significance in rendering meaning to the phenomenon of vigilantism and in framing vigilantes, their targets, police, and other actors. As the existing literature on digital vigilantism is predominantly focused on digital media affordances, this article aims to address this gap through a qualitative analysis of traditional media coverage of StopXam. Media analysis highlights intriguing nuances of traditional media as a powerful actor and discourse setter in the digital age.
Article in English