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Social media – friend or foe of the police?

09 Aug 2011 12:10 BST Back
Social media – friend or foe of the police?

Also in the news

Real-time social media monitoring could have helped the police respond to London riots more quickly, according to one marketing expert. 

Manish Sablok, head of marketing, North Europe, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise told Freshbusinessthinking.com that the police could take advantage of current technology which allows organisations to monitor social media in real time and distribute the relevant information for immediate action.

Twitter activity on Saturday and Sunday night indicated the outbreaks of disorders. One London shop owner told a BBC new reporter that she had shut up shop after finding out on Twitter that the rioters were on their way. 

It was clear that social media has been a source of information, with the perpetrators choosing the closed messaging of BlackBerry Messenger while communities were sharing and warning each other on Twitter

With the help of social media monitoring, the police might have gained valuable intelligence on what was happening on the ground as it was evolving. 

Deputy assistant commissioner Steve Kavanagh blames Twitter and other social media sites for fuelling the excessive levels of looting and violence in London and other UK cities. 

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said: “Social media and other methods have been used to organise these levels of greed and criminality and we need to adapt and learn from what we are experiencing.” 

Investment into social media training for the police has come into question, as they played catch-up with the rioters.

Managing director of digital consultancy DigitalFace told The Drum: “It has become clear that what little resource has been invested in small pockets within various forces has not been enough to keep abreast of specific mob actions and local community reactions.” 

Director of digital strategy at Origin Creative Design likened the response on Twitter to the Blitz mentality as Londoners expressed anger at the rioters’ behaviour.  

Posted by

Nicola Carpenter

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