Project X Haren

Project X Haren

Part of a series on Flash Mob Parties. [View Related Entries]

Updated May 05, 2014 at 05:05PM EDT by Brad.

Added Sep 24, 2012 at 04:16PM EDT by amanda b..

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Overview

Project X Haren was an open Facebook event unintentionally organized by Dutch teenager Merthe Weusthuis for her sixteenth birthday party, which ended up attracting tens of thousands of people to show up in Weusthuis’ hometown of Haren, the Netherlands on September 21st, 2012. While comparable to other flash mob birthday events like Kate’s Birthday or William Lashua’s Birthday, Weusthuis’s birthday party resulted in riots, looting and at least 30 arrests, simliar to the mayhem that ensued during Corey Worthington’s party in January 2008.

Background

It all began when the Dutch teenager Merthe Weusthuis accidentally sent out a Facebook invitation for her birthday party to open public instead of family and friends only. The original creation date of Weusthuis’ Facebook event page remains unknown, however, the Twitter hashtag #ProjectXHaren began appearing online as early as September 16th, 2012.[2] In the span of a week, the Facebook page accrued at least 30,000 RSVPs an the Twitter hashtag was used nearly 41,000 times.[6] The rumors of the party also spread via the Twitter hashtag #Merthe[4], with a flyer initially shared on lifestyle blog Melf.[5]



On September 19th, a “teaser trailer” for the party was uploaded via YouTube, gaining more than 36,000 views in five days. The same day, a Facebook group[7] for the party was created after police from the city of Haren wrote on the wall of the Facebook event requesting that people not attend the party.



The event was given the nickname “Project X Haren” after the 2012 comedy film Project X[3], which depicts a group of three friends’ attempt at becoming cool by throwing a party that quickly spirals out of control.



Notable Developments

September 21st: The Party

The day before the planned party, the first reports of the event began appearing on English-language news sites, including CNN iReport[8] and international news agency AFP.[9] On the morning of the event, Haren officials removed street signs, closed off roads and banned alcohol at the local train station[18] in preparation for the possible influx of thousands of people. When an estimate of 3,000 to 5,000 people arrived in Haren, Merthe Weusthuis and her family reportedly went into hiding for safety reasons.



The event was streamed live[22] from the town of Haren, where it took a violent turn as rioters began moving the party to the center of town, vandalizing and looting stores, overturning cars, damaging street signs and starting fires. On Twitter[21], there were even reports of journalists getting assaulted by the crowds, though this report was never corroborated by evidence. However, at least eight people sustained injuries at the scene.[17]



Following the events of the evening, another Facebook group called Project Clean-X Haren[13] was created with a mission to organize a clean-up for the mess left by rioters in the area. Within three days, the group gained more than 33,000 likes.



September 22nd: Aftermath

The day after the riot, Project X Haren was covered by a variety of news sites and internet culture blogs including the BBC[11], CBS This Morning[12], the Telegraph[14], CNN[15] and Gawker.[10] On September 24th, DutchNews.nl[19] reported that 35 rioters had been arrested, with 50 residents of the town reporting property damage.[20] The same day, a Facebook page called Suspect-X Haren[33] was also created to share media from the event to help the police with identifying and arresting rioters, which had gathered over 8000 likes by September 26th.



September 23rd and Following

In the days following to the event, residents, insurance companies and other parties were finally able to assess the total damage, adding up to in the millions.[35] Through Twitter and Facebook, the police was able to trace and arrest multiple people trying to organise Project X events in other cities such as Uden[24] and Schiedam.[25][26] Similary, a Project X Amsterdam to take place on October 16th was cancelled after multiple replies to the event contained messages calling up for riots and vandalism,[27] which was already sent to over 9000 people and replied to around 500 times before cancellation.[28][23]

Many rioters also turned themselves during the following days at the police, many which were under the guidance of their parents.[34] Similar to this, the police also received over 2 gigabytes of picture and video material from the event, most coming from people who were at the event filming the happenings with their mobile phones. The making public of this material helped the police to identify and arrest over 50 more people after a stream of tips started flowing in about the identities of the rioters.[29][30] Multiple news sources who were filming the event also helped by making material public (shown below).[31][32]



Search Interest



External References

[1]Twitter – Search results for #projectxharen

[2]Twitter – Earliest #ProjectXHaren mention

[3]Wikipedia – Project X

[4]Twitter – Search results for #merthe

[5]Melf – Project X – Haren

[6]Topsy – #projectxharen

[7]Facebook – Project X Haren

[8]CNN iReport – Project X at Haren

[9]AFPDutch police brace after teen’s Facebook party goes viral

[10]Gawker – Dutch Teen Forgets to Make Facebook Event Private, Incites Riot

[11]BBCFacebook party invite sparks riot in Haren, Netherlands

[12]CBSFacebook invite draws thousands to crash Dutch girl’s party

[13]Facebook – Project Clean-X Haren

[14]Telegraph – Party invitation on Facebook sparks melee in Dutch town

[15]CNNFacebook birthday invite leads to mayhem in Dutch town, authorities say

[16]Business Insider – Riot Police Called To Tiny Dutch Town After Thousands Turn Up For Teenager’s Party

[17]De Telegraaf – Rellen in Haren

[18]DutchNews.nl – Haren braces itself for Project X party

[19]DutchNews.nl – Project X Haren damage still being assessed, more arrests expected

[20]DutchNews.nl – First Haren rioters in court next month

[21]Twitter – RTL News: Journalists have been assaulted by rioters in the Dutch town of Haren.

[22]TechNieuws – Project X haren live steam en non-stop live volgen

[23]Nu.nl – Politie Amsterdam alert op Project X-feesten

[24]NOS Nieuws – Arrestatie voor ‘Project X-tweet’

[25]Nu.nl – Zeven Arrestaties na oproep ‘Project X’

[26]Algemeen Dagblad – "Zeven arrestaties na oproep ‘Project X’ in Schiedam ":http://www.ad.nl/ad/nl/11474/Facebookrellen/article/detail/3320788/2012/09/22/Arrestaties-in-Schiedam-bij-Project-X.dhtml

[27]Powned – Project X Amsterdam Afgelast

[28]De Telegraaf – Plan voor Project X in Amsterdam

[29]Msn Nieuws – Snel meer aanhoudingen relschoppers

[30]Het Parool – Politie: snel meer aanhoudingen relschoppers

[31]NuJij – Wie herkent deze plunderaars?

[32]GeenStijl – Kijk nou. Plunderaars Haren in beeld

[33]Facebook – Suspect-X Haren

[34]De Telegraaf – Relschoppers melden zich

[35]NOSSchade Haren loopt in miljoenen

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