Don’t blame the messenger: social media and the London riots.

Police are saying social media has played a huge part in London’s riotous unrest, with Blackberry singled out as the most prominent enabler. If this was 10 years ago, the headlines would’ve read “Teens use mobile phones to round up riot-goers”.

From an article in today’s The Age (9/08/2011) :  “Youths used sites such as Twitter and messaging services on Blackberry handsets to co-ordinate attacks.”

Well, revelation! Youths use Twitter and Facebook more regularly than they take showers and have double jointed thumbs that can swivel in 360 degree circles due to extended Blackberry use.

The BBC reported, “Blackberry said it would do what it could to help authorities manage the problem”.

Extreme action is more likely to stem from the frustration of grinding poverty, the dark public mood of post-GFC Gross Britannia, and having affluent, totally unachieveable, lifestyles projected from every billboard. The Blackberry was always going to be an easy target.

Rather than an aberration, this ordeal demonstrates exactly how ingrained in our everyday lives social media has become as a tool for information sharing and communication. When the media catches up, it will cease to be headline news.

And, considering the phone tapping scandals faced by News of the World right now, it is worth considering how much the government and its agencies should be demanding intervention via devices and the platforms they support.

We used to pick up the phone; now, many of us, get on Facebook. Most of us do both – as the organisation of rioters will no doubt attest.  If we didn’t have these helpful gadgets, we’d still organise – it’s human nature.

Don’t blame the messenger: understand the message. And, social media use is not news.

Get in touch to find out more about how Ellis Jones can help manage risk to reputation through social media strategy implementation.

image credit :Jorge Quinteros