It seems to be the case these days that with any large scale protests or rioting, Twitter and Facebook are involved. It’s no slight to them, there are simply no other more effective alternatives for organizing huge groups of people.
So with London burning, it comes as no surprise that the two social media giants are being put to use, but there’s a twist: today, users are using the network to organize massive clean-up efforts to help restore their city.
According to the BBC, a Twitter account called @riotcleanup “attracted more than 18,000 followers in a matter of hours and was helping people to co-ordinate efforts.” The account had over 62,300 followers as of 8 AM in New York. Users are also posting information, organizing meet-ups and requesting clean-up help under the hashtag #riotscleanup.
The efforts will go a long way towards getting rid of the debris and garbage left behind by the riots, although it’s just a start towards repairing what the Association of British Insurers said may be tens of millions of British pounds worth of damage.
At the same time, a Facebook page called “Supporting the Met Police against the London rioters” currently has about 505,000 likes. Comments cover every emotion incuding supportive (“16000 police out tonight in London. Good job, stay safe, thanks.”), depressed (“With the riots, the wars, the poverty, everything. Makes me sad to even be human”), vindictive (“Bring out the big guns. water canons, rubber bullets, tear gas the whole hog and get these idiots off our streets. show them no mercy. they didn’t show that poor man who died any”) and vaguely presidential (“parents and family members of these troublemakers but know what they are up to, and even if they are not involved, to keep silent makes them just as guilty, so get out there people, shop a thug and lets take britain back and have a better England!”).
Most of the social media efforts right now seem to be focused on local clean-up, so if you’re in London, feel free to offer help or ask for it. For those elsewhere, sharing the various sources of information might just help some Londoners get their neighborhoods looking normal again.