Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Random observation: riots and social media

A common thread in reporting of the UK's current riots is how they appear to be organised in quite a sophisticated fashion using social media services and portable devices. That is pretty interesting, but is in keeping with the recent student protests (or were they riots?; depends who's reporting I guess).

One related aspect that I've found interesting is how people I know (and people who know people I know) have reported their views of the riots on social media services like Facebook. A swift perusal of my news feed on Facebook reveals a nice selection of Daily Hate viewpoints being expressed by (essentially uninvolved) people on the subject of the riots. For instance, that rioters should be shot, jailed, lose their benefits, be sent to Afghanistan, et cetera. My brother even advocates bringing on martial law (though, to be fair, he is in the military so has something of a vested interest there).

What I guess I find interesting is that these rather authoritarian views are expressed completely publicly, non-anonymously and rather stridently. Within limits, I can, of course, understand the views themselves - as the riots appear to be decoupled from the original public anger, it's difficult to empathise with the rioters. But it still seems fairly novel to me that people should record such views in so transparent (and checkable-by-employers) a forum. Then again, having occasionally seen racist and homophobic views bandied about on Facebook (thankfully friends-of-friends at closest approach), perhaps I shouldn't be surprised.

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