Social media blamed and thanked for riots and aftermath?

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Rioting, the new phenomenon in London, is the most happening word of action at present. After holding countrywide riots, and causing a lot of disorder and mayhem, the public is now offering to play janitor, and clean up their mess.

A new Twitter-rallied force of do-gooders are taking to the streets with gloves, brooms, and dustpans to clean up the mess.

If RIM was the choice of rioters, Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook are the tools of the clean-up crews.

Using the Twitter [email protected], citizens are coming together following protests of the police shooting a Tottenham man. The Twitter account is raking in thousands of new followers per hour in the process. (At last count they had 59,000.)

Tottenham spark

The rioting began in the Tottenham district in the north of London on Saturday night but on Sunday night spread across the east and south of London in a series of copy-cat events as young people sought to challenge the authorities. On Monday night violence and looting were reported in Birmingham, Bristol and Nottingham as well asLondon.

The spark for the initial violence was a peaceful gathering held outside a police station in Tottenham to protest at the fatal shooting of a man on Thursday. However, since then the violence and looting appear to have been opportunistic criminality amongst young people that have few opportunities for well-paid employment and who are pressured by declining welfare provision and the introduction of austerity measures.

Serious public disorder had broken out in several major cities of the United Kingdom with gangs of youths looting shops, committing arson and attacking the police where they meet resistance, according to reports.

The modern tools of social networking, Facebook, Twitter and BlackBerry messaging were being used by the young people to co-ordinate locations where they could meet, leaving the stretched UK police force scrambling to catch up, according to the reports

Facebook and Tumblr effect times and locations for cleanup efforts, along with suggestions for equipment that people could bring along.

Facebook pages such as?Post riot cleanup: Let?s help London?and?Riot Cleanup?are keeping up with the aftermath as well, and serving as launchpads for other local communities to begin their own work.

The man behind the twitter movement is?Dan Thompson, from Worthing in Sussex. An artist, he runs a network helping high streets use empty shops.

?I wondered what I could do to make a difference. I thought if we could get people to sweep up the bit of street in front of their house, that would be something.

?I never expected this sort of response. To see people armed with brooms cheering the police is heartening.

?This is what the big society is about. It is about local people standing up and making a difference.? He dismissed suggestions that Twitter was to blame for the riots. ?You might as well blame the air,? he said.

‘Like Hogwarts’

At the time this post was written, broom-carrying masses were stepping off the train and collecting at Clapham Junction, streets away from a family-owned furniture shop that was torched last evening. ?It?s like Hogwarts,??New Statesman?legal correspondent David Allen Green?tweeted, in response to @kayaburgess’s, ?Almost everyone getting off the Clapham Junction is carrying a broom.?

While cleanup efforts in other areas have been successful, the Clapham congregation was held up, waiting for a green signal from police, the Telegraph reports. According to a policeman at the site, the cleanup was being stalled because of ?health and safety issues,? but eventually groups were let onto the site.

At the end of the day, @Riotcleanup released a?statement, thanking everyone for their “hearts and minds, arms and legs.” What “started as an idea, evolved into a noisy rabble and ended up with hundreds of folk around the UK, helping to clean up the damage and restore faith in the idea of community,” “1/80,000” wrote.

There are other ways Londoners are being called to help from their homes. The Metropolitan police have?begun releasing photographs?of rioters from?CCTV images?for people to identify–a crowdsourcing tactic that’s been used in the past, including in June when the Canucks lost in the Stanley Cup finals and the citizens of Vancouverwent buck wild. (Yes, Canadians behaving badly–odd, we know.) In London, local tattletale Tumblr Catch A Looter?is collecting and posting images of rioters in action, with instructions for how to contact the authorities if anyone is recognized.

Sources: eetimes, fastcompany, WSJ

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