Riots – Social Media the problem or a help?

Part of the reaction of politicians to SM and the riots is of course that they don’t get it all! Interesting that the police do

Joe mentioned this week that the use of Social Media still have not taken off in small business.

But we also learned this week that the use of social media and texting is at the core of how the riots in the UK are being organized. The best rioter’s tool – The Blackberry which is encrypted.

Since then, the BBMs regarding Duggan’s death and the ensuring riots have gone viral. The Guardian was shown one message by a recipient which read, “Everyone in Edmonton, Enfield, Wood Green, everyone in north London, link up at Enfield train station at 4pm.” It detailed what items to being–including hammers–for the demonstrations.

The advantage users have with BBM is that the news continues to circulate, but is covert enough that it is difficult to trace. BBMs are encrypted and hacking this network would be incredibly difficult, so protestors are able to stay a step ahead of authorities.

RIM UK has stated that it will help Scotland Yard in any way it can, so the BBM may only have so long to live as a tool for rioters. But most of them are of the young, mobile-minded, tech-savvy generation, and there are a variety of tools at their disposal.

The Police and the community are learning also in real time how to help each other – by also using social media. Citizens are using Twitter and Facebook to help the police have better intelligence and the police are learning this week how best to respond and to monitor.

Here is a Google map that is being run to track incidents

The Police are setting up a Flickr site to help citizens help the police identify rioters

The Guardian has a map that shows incidents all over the UK

The only chance that citizens and the police have to get ahead of this to to get ahead of it – they have to use the same tools better and faster.

I make no ethical comments – this is what it is and there is no going back

This is the reality of our world today – it is rushing to a network state. So if you don’t know how to use this well – you are at extreme risk. You just don’t know what is going on and the pace of your interaction with the world will be too slow. It does not matter how small you are – you will be too slow to know.

t is ironic that we in the west now are considering shutting down parts of social media as a response to the UK riots – while we encourage its use by people in the Middle East.

Authorities grappling with violent unrest should avoid heavy-handed clampdowns on social media and instead try to enlist the help of the public against the rioters, said John Bassett, a former senior official at British signals intelligence agency GCHQ and now a senior fellow at the Royal United Services Institute.

“The use of social media in the unrest looks like a game-changer. But any attempt to exert state control over social media looks likely to fail,” he told Reuters.

“A much better approach would be to encourage and support individuals and community groups in identifying alarming developments on social media and even speaking out on the internet against extremists and criminals, and ensuring that the police have the skills and technical support to get pre-emptive and operational intelligence from social media when necessary.” Link

Surely the lesson here is to help the community and the police get ever better at using these tools themselves. To shut them down makes the community and the police blind too! Social Media did not cause the riots – it only makes the rioter more powerful. It can also make the community more powerful too.

Update: Here is how the Police are using Twitter as a Perp Walk:

Lifting a page from the hacker’s handbook, the Greater Manchester Police are naming and shaming rioters on their Twitter feed.

“We promised we’d name all those convicted for their roles in the disorder — here we go …” the police announced, as they began listing the names, dates of birth and partial addresses of individuals tried in connection with the disorder, which flared across Britain.

“Eoin Flanagan (born 01/01/1983), of Carson Road, Burnage, jailed for eight months for stealing clothes,” read one post.

“Jason Ullett (born 15/10/72) of Woodward Court, Ancoats, sentenced to 10 weeks in prison for swearing at police officers,” read another.

And another: “Stefan Hoyle (born 27/01/1992) of St. Stephen Street, Salford, jailed for four months for theft after found with a stolen violin.”

Think of it as a new kind of perp walk, but very much in the tradition of hackers who are fond of outing their rivals online.

The police department’s efforts received both praise and criticism, along with a few questions. The department explained that it released dates of birth so as to avoid confusion with individuals with the same name.

 

Advertisements

One thought on “Riots – Social Media the problem or a help?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s