19 Responses to “Network effects: Social media’s role in the London riots”

  1. Chris Nelson

    On the news, the rioters look like gangstas from Compton, or something. I think hiphop gangsta rap is the culprit of this insanity. It makes me sick. Young folk think it’s normal to act like an inner city gangsta.

  2. Paula Ashley

    I haven’t seen any hysteria whatsoever over social media in the UK riot coverage — but the near-universal glorying over the role SM played in toppling the Mubarak government earlier this year would certainly inspire reasonable people to draw comparisons between these two episodes of crowdsourced behaviors There is a legitimate question about social media’s role in the UK riots — especially with regard to the spread of violence to cities far from the London suburb where the shootings occurred. Might the Rodney King beating have sparked riots in Atlanta and Detroit, too, if there had been Facebook and Twitter?

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    Its a total disgrace! Lets band together with Friends on Who’s Free nearby you to help UK !
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  4. Cameron Church

    A great piece outlining how social media, and real-time communication, can not only be a catalyst in bringing groups together but also how this same phenomenon given birth to real time feedback in the way of 24-hr news cycles, and instant on-demand reporting.

    The next, more sinister, question perhaps is what role does law and enforcement now need to take in shaping and, dare I say it, control these channels?

    After all BBM chat is traceable right back to the credit card owner of the phone account….

    — Cameron Church

  5. chistorra

    A few things, BBM is not a social network – it is private group short messaging service.

    RIM should not release the messages en masse, this is not how legal interception is supposed to work.

    The authorities should follow the law, and request interceptions of people they suspect as being thugs involved in this violence.

    I’m not a big fan of Gladwell, but he is absolutely correct: these riots are not caused by BBM, but they have been “honed” by its use.

    This is “traditional” thuggery and mindless violence, there are laws to combat that. Use them.

    As you rightly put it, the “methods” used by these thugs are similar, if not the same as the methods used by people fighting and rioting for their freedom, and democracy in other countries.

    Remove/interfere with these tools (which can be used for good or for bad) and you do the public a disservice.

  6. selinapatrick26

    You can’t blame social networks for organising riots! Social networks are a way of comminicating and if people who want to riot didn’t have them, they’d use chat rooms or some other form of mass communication such a forums and blogs. All the networks do is allow people to talk to each other – their plans to damage property and steal things is their own doing and their own behaviour is their own responsibility.

    Check this Youtube Video http://t.co/mPJfgC3

  7. This is rediculous. Are you insinuating these wouldn’t have happened if BBM and Twitter didn’t exist. It is in man’s very nature to use violence to express their anger at the cards life has dealt them. With or without twitter and BBM, these people would have done exactly the same thing. http://t.co/iWy2eaJ

  8. There are definitely parallels between television news reporting and social media networks for publicizing either good or bad behavior. And while social media networks are certainly not the root cause of local, national, or global protests/revolutions, the Internet and 24/7 access to social channels encourages a certain degree of sharing that attracts immediate attention with viral results. Unfortunately, in this situation, it fueled some really bad behavior. Great post—thanks for sharing your insight, Mathew.

    • chistorra

      I do sometimes agree. As much as I don’t like it when its done wrong, this article is well written.

      Unfortunately, this a result of the intersect between technology and human behaviour.

    • Mark McAndrew

      Poverty? This is the 6th richest nation on Earth, nobody here knows what ‘poor’ even means. 500,000 Somali kids starving to death while stupid lazy rich westerners destroy their own neighbourhoods cos they feel ‘deprived’.

      Looting shops, burning homes and mugging innocent bystanders is not “protesting”, it’s “being a criminal scumbag”.

      I hope BBM, TW and FB keeps all that juicy evidence…

  9. But what do you do when the services are run from the same country where the riot is happening? Someone on Twitter was saying RIM has confirmed they are giving the information about the rioters who were using BBM to the police.

      • car0lynh0dge1

        Why are we worrying about protecting the location and/or identity of rioters? The UK isn’t Libya, it has a reliable court system to protect individual rights. RIM should absolutely give location information and even identity information to the police to quell riots.