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Twitter, blackberry or social media in general isn’t to blame for the riots

I think I speak for most people when I say we have all been saddened by the recent events in Tottenham.  A young man called Mark Duggan was shot dead recently by the police and this has cause some unrest in the northern borough of London. imageIt has been widely reported that social media but more importantly Twitter was responsible for gathering these individuals together. However, this isn’t true. Social media is just a means of modern day communication. I gave my initial thoughts about this in a PR Week interview this morning as did my friend Stephen Waddington who said:

‘Twitter is being used to exchange messages and discuss the riots in the way that previous generations used technology such as phone, email and SMS.

‘To claim that Twitter had a role in the Tottenham riots is as credible as placing the blame at the hands of mobile phone handset manufacturers or mobile operators.’

I totally agree and added my thoughts which were:

I don’t think we can blame Twitter entirely as it cannot moderate every single piece of content on its network in real-time. All it can do is remove any inflammatory accounts when they are highlighted to its team.

‘I don’t think Twitter is to blame here, that is just the communication tool selected by these individuals. If they didn’t use Twitter they would simply find another communication method, whether that is Facebook, email, text message or carrier pigeon. It really doesn’t matter because if people want to get together and cause trouble they can do it pretty easily.’

So Twitter isn’t to blame, what will be interesting will be whether we will now see those that tweeted about this being prosecuted? My guess is yes they will and that might cause people to think twice before trying to use Twitter to create anarchy again but unfortunately I don’t think this is the last of the violence just yet.

Chris Norton

Chris is listed in the world's top 30 PR bloggers and a regular conference speaker on crisis management and social media marketing. He is also co-author of Share This Too and lectures on digital communications at Leeds Metropolitan University.

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