Social Media Used To Rally Volunteers For Clear-Up Efforts

Police officers in riot gear walk past a burning building in Tottenham on August 7, 2011. (Stefan Wermuth/Reuters)

Yesterday I blogged about how social media was not so much to blame for the rioting in London and elsewhere, but more an easy way for the little scumbags to communicate and organise their abhorrent behaviour. I am actually writing this with gritted teeth as I am so enraged by the whole situation, but there are some positives to be taken from the actions of good, honest citizens today.

As I said, Twitter had a small part to play in the organisation of the riots, but now the people of London are using it to coordinate the clear-up efforts. Various hashtags and an account called Clean Up London have been managing the activities of those who have either taken a day off work or given up their own time to help sort out the monumental mess that has been left in areas such as Croydon and Clapham. Some boroughs are still cordoned off to the public after intense fires last night, which are still being dealt with.

The account first tweeted 10 hours ago (around 3am BST Tuesday morning) and has already amassed 60,000 followers. Facebook pages have sprung up, and last night as I watched the news into the early hours I saw the group “Supporting the Met Police against the London rioters“, which at around 11pm had something like ca.25,000 members, but now little over 12 hours later it is getting near to half a million. There are also support pages asking for the Army to be deployed as visible force, and other slightly more extreme suggestions such as live rounds being used in favour of rubber bullets.

But everyday people aren’t just content with doing their bit to help restore their neighbourhood by clearing up rubble and glass. They want justice. People are being encouraged to take pictures of looters and either upload them to Twitter with the hashtag #tweetalooter, or by tweeting the image directly to Catch A Looter, who are collating the images onto  Tumblr, where hopefully they will be recognised and reported to the authorities.

Either way, it is warming to see such a strong sense of community and togetherness being shown by most of the people in London, Birmingham and other areas affected by the actions of the unlawful minority. It’s just a shame that it takes a thunderstorm for a rainbow to appear.