Social Media – Pro or Con In The Riots?

August 18th, 2011 by Hannah Newbould


During last week’s horrific rioting it has become clear that social media was criticised as playing a major part in organising these terrible events. With gangs tweeting about meeting spots and bragging about looting family owned businesses, it is no wonder that people are pointing the finger at social media.

However, it is becoming increasingly clear that Blackberry Messenger has actually been a key player in the organisation of these events. In fact, if anything, social media has played a positive role in the riots.

The Guardian reported that the most up to date rallying in the London riots took place not on Twitter or Facebook but “on a more covert social network, Blackberry Messenger.”

In Twitter / Facebook’s defence, it is great to see that there was such a vast amount of people using social media to rectify the problem.  People of many generations are taking to the streets of Manchester, London and all the other affected cities to clear up the scenes of destruction.

Hashtagged as #riotcleanup people have travelled to arranged spots with a broom in hand and with all the passion in the world to clear up what these rioters have created.

Over 1000 people turned up to last week’s clean-up in Manchester’s Piccadilly Gardens armed with brooms and bin bags alone.

It’s encouraging to see that there was such a great number of people wanting to clear up the mess and they came together via social media channels to arrange this.

The Metropolitan Police have also created a Flickr album named ‘London Disorder – Operation Withern’ in order to showcase rioters in the hope of catching them through the social networking channel.

Stephen Fry also backed the campaign tweeting earlier in the week “I do hope that if I was in London now, I’d be as good & brave & kind as all those who are agreeing to meet & help clean up.”

Ex-Big Brother contestant, Sam Pepper,  also created an anti-riot operation himself by creating a Facebook event page named Operation Cup of Tea which has trended on Twitter all day last Wednesday. ‘Make Tea Not War’ and urging people to stay at home and enjoy a cup of tea and post a picture of themselves at 8.30 pm last night – designed for those who would sooner stay in and drink a cup of tea.

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