What came first? The Tweet or The London Riots?

Note, at the time of writing this I have no insight into the state of Camden Market. I did, however, check various other key points in Camden this morning and the majority looked fine with the police car above being the only one I saw.

As I am living in Camden Town, London I was keeping an even closer eye on Twitter last night due to the London riots.

Having learned from the Camden Market Blaze a few years back that official news can’t be trusted for accurate, local information I started out in good faith remembering how Twitter provided fast and accurate news during the fire.

…and first couple of tweets were worrying “It’s kicking off in Camden now”, “Don’t f*cking touch Camden you c*nts. Goths unite!” and “Is it true Camden is on fire?”

But I soon realised that once in a rare while there were tweets like “I live in Camden. Nothing outside my window”.

Photos don’t lie so I switched from Twitter to Peephole. Very few photos appeared. While there were loads of tweets there were hardly any photo evidence to back speculations and the few Camden photos available just showed lots of police but no rioters.

Only hours later did we hear sirens and saw the first (and only) rioters in the shape of some 20 kids cycling down the canal all hooded up.

Ofcourse something did happen in Camden late last night but looking at the damage this morning it may well have been blown right out of proportion by frightened people on twitter (me being one of them).

The question is: Would anything have happened if people hadn’t been tweeting their unfounded speculations?

Did tweeps actually unwillingly spur copycat rioters to aim for Camden because they thought they could join a riot in progress?

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  • I don’t think Twitter helped, but without knowing the internal communications of ‘hoodies’ we can’t pin the blame on anything in particular. Word of mouth is word of mouth, whether it’s Twitter, BBM, text message, phone call or of course the physical act of talking.

  • Interesting analysis re the impact of social networking and riots.

  • True. I think my point (which I appreciate from the comments wasn’t clear) was; If we didn’t have all these extremely fast communication methods, would anything have happened at all?

    I think the speculation triggered a lot of “joiners” to come to join a riot which wasn’t actually happened. And Ofcourse they made it happen when they got there, but without the hype in the first place they may not have come. It’s almost like a self-fulfilling prophesy.

  • I agree. Where I live I had reports of things kicking off but only one or two saying the total opposite. In a world where we seem to feed off the latest buzz, I am more wary about believing it. I think that there are those that wish to incite action, both for good and bad

  • Agree. Social media is just another tool to promote good or bad… but it can do so with frightenly fast speed.

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