Riots and the Aftermath: The Double Edged Nature of Social Media

 

In my previous blog post “Has Social Media Really Created  Two-Way Discussions?” I addressed the nature of humans to naturally revolt, and create two way discussion.

Well, social media seems to have another dual perspective: creating/fuelling riots and then subsequently creating/fuelling a backlash and clean-up.

My examples: the Vancouver and London Riots and their aftermath.

Vancouver lost the Stanley Cup finals and then citizens began to riot: Vancouver Sun “Time to Riot” one user said; however, reading that article users began to identify citizens that caused the destruction.

During the riots, people celebrated their participation. Afterwards, people condemned and jailed participants.

 

 

Now look at London. BlackBerry messenger, email, Facebook, and Twitter all are claimed as communication platforms for the riot’s organizers.  (CBC and AdWeek). Without social media, the argument goes; the rioters never would have organized. Or, in a less strong position, the riots would have occurred but the damage and scale would have been smaller.

The articles also explain how police, citizens, and RIM (the creators of the BlackBerry) are now fighting back by indentifying rioters in pictures and through their BBMs.

Social media is great, but as many individuals and companies know, it has a double edged nature. It can cause success but also crisis. It can cause feedback but also harsh criticism. It also can cause riots but also inspire good deeds.

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