How social networking escalated rioting – and can bring it to justice

It is now widely understood that the rioting was in part driven by communications using social networking services. Police must act.

It is now widely understood that the rioting – that caused by nihilistic looting as well as that by organised criminal gangs – was in part driven by communications using social networking services such as Twitter and BlackBerry Messenger (BBM).

It has been clear for months that social media escalate ‘spontaneous’ public events for good or for ill – from the protests in the Arab capitals to the actions of UK Uncut, public pressure to shut the News of The World to the riots and the volunteer clean-up efforts.

We do not need to give a moral evaluation to the events on that list to see that there is a pattern here: Social media enables events to snowball and build to levels which would have previously been impossible. And while it can be used for tremendous good, it may have only been a matter of time until it was used for more sinister ends.

Obviously the ultimate cause of the riots is the irresponsibility and the thuggery of the perpetrators. But ignoring the social media aspect of this will allow things to continue to run out of control.

There are questions here for programmers and the police. For the programmers, there are concerns about BBM in particular, for which general public access is more difficult as participation requires a PIN number, and for which tracing messages is difficult.

Police should be in direct talks with the developers Research in Motion on how to ensure that the law enforcement authorities have access to it, and can trace those sending messages more easily.

The questions for the police surround whether they are monitoring social networking sites as much and as effectively as they could and whether they are they sharing best practice across the country and the world to ensure that they are as effective as possible.

The police do have an advantage here. The structure of social media pulls users towards being less anonymous, not more – it should make it easier to identify those planning, and who have carried out, criminal acts.

 Technology moves very fast, and it is not surprising that the authorities may be taking time to adjust. But they have to give the time and thought to engage with social media – otherwise we will all pay the cost.

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48 Responses to “How social networking escalated rioting – and can bring it to justice”

  1. SocialNetBible

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  2. bob woods

    How social networking escalated rioting – and can bring it to justice: http://bit.ly/nuean0 : writes @danielelton #riots

  3. Eric MacInnes

    #socialmedia sobering thoughts about sinister use of sm but there's an upside http://bit.ly/qWo8Xl

  4. AltGovUK

    RT @leftfootfwd: How social networking escalated rioting – and can bring it to justice: http://bit.ly/nuean0 : writes @danielelton #riots

  5. Andra Mititelu

    How social networking escalated rioting – and can bring it to justice: http://bit.ly/nuean0 : writes @danielelton #riots

  6. Noreen Welch

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  7. Kelly Cartwright

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  8. Adrienne Franklin

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  9. Kevin Lane Skarritt

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  10. Big Eyed Fish

    #social #media #news How social networking escalated rioting – and can bring it to justice – Left Foot Forward http://ow.ly/1eb5TU

  11. Louie Conceicao

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  12. Sean&Vaun Coleman

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  13. Aaron Bernard Ransom

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  14. Video Turf

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  15. Chris Dockery

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  16. muhammad arief s.

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  17. Bryan Wong YH

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  18. Stefano

    #social #media #news How social networking escalated rioting – and can bring it to justice – Left Foot Forward http://ow.ly/1eb5TU

  19. Robert Moore

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  20. Enytheng

    How social networking escalated rioting – and can bring it to justice: It is now widely understood that the riot… http://bit.ly/rhKNfB

  21. nev palmer

    Perhaps you should also figure in the outrage expressed on social media. My fb has seen nothing but condemnation in one continuous stream from practically everyone I know and looking at their pages, the same.

  22. Cy-Clone.com

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  23. EasyPCOnline

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  24. Strictly Social

    How social networking escalated rioting – and can bring it to justice – http://ow.ly/5ZzYI

  25. Stuart Fairbairns

    How social networking escalated rioting – and can bring it to justice – http://ow.ly/5ZzZ5

  26. Stacy Floy

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  27. SocialListening

    How social networking escalated rioting – and can bring it to justice – Left Foot Forward http://goo.gl/fb/F41NW

  28. Strictly Social

    #LondonRiots How social networking escalated rioting – and can bring it to justice – http://ow.ly/5ZBJh

  29. ravinar

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  30. Chris Dockery

    How social networking escalated rioting – and can bring it to …: It is now widely understood that the rioting … http://bit.ly/qA945M

  31. Randy Thompson

    How social networking escalated rioting – and can bring it to … http://bit.ly/ngVWAH

  32. Video Turf

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  33. Sean&Vaun Coleman

    How social networking escalated rioting – and can bring it to … http://bit.ly/nyUSRX

  34. Robert

    The same problem we had when jungle drums people reacted to them as well, of course nobody had a phone in the old days, hey John get the lads meet you in the pub, pass it on. How the hell did you think we had flying pickets in the 1970’s no email just a phone and thousands of us turned up

  35. Enytheng

    How social networking escalated rioting – and can bring it to …: It is now widely understood that the rioting … http://bit.ly/nWii53

  36. Adrienne Franklin

    How social networking escalated rioting – and can bring it to …: It is now widely understood that the rioting … http://bit.ly/obtOsd

  37. Nishma

    How social networking escalated rioting – and can bring it to justice http://bit.ly/o5FUAJ #ukriots

  38. Sarah Absolom

    How social networking escalated rioting – and can bring it to justice: It is now widely understood that the riot… http://bit.ly/ngWJMs

  39. Karine Paparo

    RT @leftfootfwd: How social networking escalated rioting – and can bring it to justice http://t.co/NpUMqUp

  40. Andre

    I’d just like to point out that these youths are clearly not impoverished! Never saw a poor guy with a Blackberry before… They’re just low class, opportunist looters.

    Great post though, thanks.

  41. SocialNetBible

    How social networking escalated rioting – and can bring it to …: It is now widely understood that the rioting … http://bit.ly/pnKi5k

  42. SocialListening

    How social networking escalated rioting – and can bring it to justice – Left Foot Forward http://bit.ly/nZmiw9

  43. Josh Rosenburg

    How social networking escalated rioting – and can bring it to justice: It is now widely understood that the riot… http://bit.ly/ngWJMs

  44. Nasser Al Harthy

    How social networking escalated rioting – and can bring it to justice: It is now widely understood that the riot… http://bit.ly/ngWJMs

  45. Dale Whitehead

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  46. Cy-Clone.com

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  47. Knut Cayce

    Mobile telephones a two edged sword http://t.co/Zjdp54f Tracking the #Blackberry #bandits

  48. Jonathan Lea

    RT @leftfootfwd: How social networking escalated rioting – and can bring it to justice http://t.co/eAGDO4y

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