The power of social media is truly outstanding. One of the most talked about events of the week has been the riots in London. We are thinking of our friends in the London area and hope that everyone stays safe. The riots have shed light on the impact of social media – and crowdsourcing – as it was believed that rioters were using social networks and BBM to communicate and plan riot-related activities. Another group of people have turned to social media to get their crowd on board to clean up the areas affected by the riots.
An “Online” Meeting Place
The Wired UK article “Crowdsourcing London’s Clean-Up,” by Katie Scott, discusses the Facebook page, Twitter accounts and multiple Twitter hash tags that were created to get the word out about the riot cleanup. The article states:
“Artist, writer, photographer and explorer” Dan Thompsonstarted the Twitter hashtag #riotcleanup late last night after watching news reports from his home on the Sussex coast. He told Wired.co.uk that he has been up all night co-ordinating clear-up operations, letting people know where to head if they want to help; and also relaying requests from local business owners who need support clearing debris.
Thompson added that the first person to volunteer was musician Kate Nashand the overall response has been “phenomenal”. He said: “Teams of volunteers have been out since the early hours and we are already getting responses back saying that areas are clear.”
The UK newspaper, The Guardian, has set up a live blog of the events surrounding the riots. Here’s the live feed from day 4.
Multi-Purpose Social Media
The article also reports that social media sites are being used to “name and shame” the looters. People are being encouraged to post videos and photos online to help identify wrongdoers.
On the other side of the story, an article in The Guardian, “London riots: how BlackBerry Messenger played a key role,” discusses some of the Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and other social media sites that have been set up by rioters and their supporters:
Certainly, the first online gathering of people mourning – and soon vowing to avenge – the death of Tottenham resident Mark Duggan took place on Facebook. Some of those behind the page, which now boasts more than 7,500 fans, launched into action shortly before 10.30pm on Saturday evening – more than five hours after the first public show of protest, outside the police station on Tottenham High Road.
At 10.45pm, when rioters set a double decker bus alight, the page posted: “Please upload any pictures or video’s you may have from tonight in Tottenham. Share it with people to send the message out as to why this has blown into a riot.”
From covering the events of the riots, to tracking down looters and arranging a riot clean-up, these actions reiterate the fact that social media has changed the way people report information, gather information and investigate events.