Cleaning up after the riots using social media

August 9, 2011

If there was ever any sign of the importance of social media as a form of communication then the riots in London and other cities such as Birmingham and Liverpool have provided it.

Social media is a neutral tool – and though it has been used by the minority to instigate violence it has also been shown to be an incredible way to share up-to-date news, a way to offer support and now, today, as a way for communities to join together and start the clean-up operation after the last few nights of destruction.

The ways in which social platforms like Twitter and Facebook allow messages to be quickly shared between large groups in real time and for instant communication to happen, have been invaluable to cleanup organisers who need to quickly and efficiently gather together followers in the aftermath of the rioting.

On Twitter people attending the clean up sessions are using the hashtags #londoncleanup and #riotcleanup to organise themselves. A Twitter account RiotCleanUp was set up last night providing a vital source of information for people looking to help rebuild city centres. The account tweeted places and times where community clear-ups were happening and also posted offers of help and resources. The @RiotCleanUp account has already gained more than 55,000 followers in less than 14 hours.

It quickly gained the attention of celebrities such as Rio Ferdinand, Simon Pegg and Tinchy Stryder  who tweeted about it. TV presenter Clare Balding wrote: “I’ve been trying to find some ray of sunshine amid the chaos, anger & violence. @riotcleanup can allow Londoners to show our real character.” Comedian Dave Gorman commented: “Went to bed depressed by the news. Now feeling strangely emotional as I read about @riotcleanup #riotcleanup Amazing.”

It wasn’t just Twitter that was being used to mobilise communities. One Facebook group called “post riot clean-up: let’s help London” had gained more than 7,000 followers at the time of writing with people offering help and posting about how people can donate to charities who are supporting those affected.

Other platforms have also been used to help people know what is going on. With many rumours about what has happened within London this Google My Map attempts to map verified locations that have been affected by the London rioting and looting.

You can also check out this London Riots Clean Up Storify created by Mashable to see how the story is unfolding.



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