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Social media: for good or evil?

The riots on the streets of London over the past few nights have chilled us – how can our fellow citizens wreak havoc on their community? Where has morality gone? What fresh horror will tonight bring?

Yesterday, the police blamed social media – highlighting how Facebook, twitter and BlackBerry Messenger have all been used to help organise attacks and keep rioters ahead of the police.

This 21st century equivalent of shooting the messenger, the police statement ignores the reasons behind why people are rioting and highlights how much the police needs to get a grip on how the way people are communicating has had a significant impact on society.

Today, we’ve been cheered by the communities set up to encourage people to take to the streets and reclaim the pavements, roads and buildings as they clean up and start the rebuilding process. We’ve just watched an interview on BBC News with a man from Birmingham explaining he set up his clean up action group because he felt this was his town too.

So is social media a force of good or evil? The answer … well neither. Social media simply is a way of communicating. It’s what’s being said that makes the difference.

Brands have been quicker to realise that they need to understand what’s being said and to act or react accordingly – now is the time for the police to stop making vague statements and listen, learn, and act.

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