Network Effects: Social Media's Role in the London Riots

Facebook and Twitter can fuel uprisings by allowing participants to coordinate action and to see themselves as part of a larger movement

In the wake of a controversial police shooting, Britain’s capital city has been rocked by two straight days of widespread rioting and looting. As with previous riots—such as those in Vancouver, B.C., following the Stanley Cup finals—everyone seems to be looking for a culprit, with some blaming Twitter and Facebook, and others pinning the violence on BlackBerry (RIMM) and its instant messaging abilities. But that’s a little like blaming individual trees for the forest fire. As we’ve pointed out before with respect to the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, these are just aspects of our increasingly real-time, mobile, and connected lives, and they can be an incredibly powerful force for both good and bad.

To continue reading this article you must be a Bloomberg Professional Service Subscriber.