Social media comes under fire

Social media has been criticised this week for helping coordinate the recent riots. We have all been glued to our television screens watching scenes of rioting and looting in London and it spreading to other parts of the UK including Manchester. It’s not the first time it has happened, but perhaps the first instance when social media are in the center of the problem. People have always known that really grows the number of likes on social media, and this time a group of troublemakers have taken advantage of this fact.

People have been quick to point the finger at social media. Many media commentators have debated that sites like Twitter and Facebook have helped gangs plan their targets and arrange meeting points.

Blackberry’s messenger service has also come under fire. The company announced this week that it would assist the police in “any way they can” but criticism for the service not being switched off by Blackberry has caused outrage.

The power of social media

We all know social media can be powerful and unfortunately we have experienced its dark side. What is disappointing is that the technology we have all grown to enjoy has been abused to perform criminal acts.

I will be honest, I have been surprised with what I have seen. What doesn’t surprise me is how people have reacted to combat the riots. Communities have come together and made a stand to protect their livelihood.

What is interesting is they have used social media to do this. Twitter’s @RiotCleanUpManc had 6,000 followers and Facebook’s ‘Manchester Riot Cleanup’ page had 8,000 the day after the riots started.

Is social media to blame?

Definitely not. You can’t blame social media or even the recession for what we have seen. You can only blame the minority of people behind the riots and looting.

It’s a coincidence my last blog entry was about social networking sites forcing people to use their real names and I think this is even more apparent now. I understand people will still find a way to work around it but it will make it a lot harder and will certainly help identifying people who use social media in the wrong way.

In the weeks and months to come social media will continue to bring people together for good reasons. Social media isn’t to blame, a minority of mindless people are.