When the Dallas police called for the public to send them videos of illegal activity during protests a week ago, they didn’t get the evidence of law-breaking demonstrators they expected. Instead, fans of Korean pop music downloaded the police department’s app en masse, rallied each other to flood it with short, fan-produced videos, and gave it low ratings to make it less visible in the app store. Several hours later, the police announced that the app was temporarily offline.
In the week after George Floyd’s murder, hundreds of thousands of people joined protests across the US and around the globe, demanding education, attention, and justice. But one of the key tools for organizing these protests is a surprising one: it’s not encrypted, doesn’t rely on signing in to a social network, and wasn’t even designed for this purpose. It’s Google Docs.