Manchester Riots: Is social media to blame? - Falkon Digital Ltd

Manchester Riots: Is social media to blame?

By Luke on August 10, 2011

Rioters looting a shopping centre in Manchester

With all the recent violence, and mindless behaviour happening across the country in the UK’s major cities, a lot of people are pointing the finger at Social Media. But is it really to blame? Working in the online marketing industry for an SEO Company in Manchester, I feel that I should defend this accusation by presenting more of the information.

So first of all, why is Social Media being blamed? Well this is largely due to the Blackberry Messenger (BBM) which allows for annonymous posting of messages, which was used to some degree by rioters to organise some of the looting and violence. Twitter and Facebook groups were also used; I even heard about a group on Facebook that was publicising a looting event for Selfridges in Manchester.

Following the event, there were calls to restrict the use of social media with stronger security measures, monitoring and more. I’m completely against this, as why should everyone else suffer because a minority of people misuse the technology, and make it less accessible or useable as a result. However perhaps more action should be taken on users that have been inciting or organising such things through social media.

So now the good points! Social Media also proved to be advantageous in many ways, keeping the masses informed and helping to steer people out of danger. Alternative groups were started where users agreed to meet to defend their properties, businesses and Mosques. Now I’m not promoting vigilantism, but this seemed to be at the very least an effective deterent in some areas of Manchester last night. The groups showed looters, who actually seem quite cowardly in nature, that their actions are unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Ultimately a show of force and that they weren’t scared of the looters seemed to be enough.

Also a mass clean up operation has begun where volunteers and business owners have all met up to help sort some of the carnage. According to the Daily Mail, the event attracted thousands of volunteers and was largely due to the way it was shared across Twitter using #riotcleanup and a Manchester Riot Cleanup Facebook page.

So ultimately in my humble opinion, I believe Social Media has served the greater good and it was simply misused by just a small minority. What does everyone else think?


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