The London riots and social media

The wonderful thing about news in the Internet age is that we have unfiltered access to both first hand reports and the perspective of overseas news channels. In this panel interview, Guardian journalist Paul Lewis emphasises that he feels the use of social media and Blackberry Messenger in particular to orchestrate the riots should be considered in the loosest terms, rather than it being a defining factor.

The comments from the panel also reflect some of my own experiences of watching the riots unfold online – the positives far outweighed the bad.

Its also interesting to reflect on the evolving relationship between the traditional media and social media. Lewis immersed himself in the medium, like photojournalist, adding credibility and insight into his reporting in parallel to user generated content. The Guardian newspaper also leads the way in using open data to share facts, so we can judge for ourselves. The public record of social media also means we can check quotes for the original context too (scroll down to Misquoted).

The UK Police are also using social media to track down offenders, although perhaps they should have read from Queenland Police’s book for their approach to #mythbusting during an emergency (PDF).

Such is the ever tightening relationship between our every days lives, the delivery of community and government services, professional media reporters and social media I can’t see how in reality we can really untangle the technology without unintended consequences.

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