Digital vigilantism is one of the challenges of e-democracy. Many scholars recognize the threat of vigilantism to civil society. However, we believe it can also reinforce weak government institutions. We consider digital vigilantism as an alternative to e-participation tools. This study aims to determine a model of digital vigilantism in Russia based on the analysis of the social media activity of StopXam in the context of the development of alternative e-democracy institutions. Considering vigilantism as an example of an informal institution, we analyze vigilantism following Helmke and Levitsky typology. The case chosen for analysis is one of the largest Russian vigilant StopXam movement that can be compared with the government initiative Moscow Helper. To identify the model of digital vigilantism in Russia, we conduct a social network analysis in respect to five communities in Vk.com, a Russian social network: “StopXam”, “StopXam Moscow”, the official community of “Moscow Helper”, the unofficial community of “Moscow Helper”, the community of opponents of “Moscow Helper” application. The findings of this study suggest that vigilantism could be considered as an instrument of informal institutionalization, which can be used by political actors (primarily the government) as a tool for setting the rules of the game that correspond to established public values. The creation of groups that are ready to observe the general principles of the game’s rules and impose common values with only minor, occasional violations of the letter of the law is becoming a working model of managed vigilantism. This model tends towards the routine practice of vigilantism, which limits the potential for online mobilization.
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