London crowdsources mass theft

As London and the world watches on with car-crash fascination and fear, once again the internet and social media is proving to be the most valuable tool for real time news.

Traditional media is struggling to move with the same pace needed to cover all of the related events to last night’s riots, which cropped up all over London and ran rings around the police. Apart from the Guardian’s excellent live blog it’s tough to collate the wreaths of information, separating the wheat from the chaff in a constant stream of news true and false. 

What makes social media such a helpful tool in finding out the news, direct from the source, is also what made the riots possible in the first place. Ultimately, a directive to turn London into chaos came from one person. And that threat went viral. 

The Telegraph writes that Twitter users could face time in jail for incitement to the looting. But with, presumably, so many people involved it’s going to be a tough task. Just like with the original message, technology and the internet has opened the everyman’s eyes to people power. 

A friend posted a picture earlier today with the police outgunned and outnumbered as the chaos spread. The caption was: “whose streets”? Here is the original BBM

Blackberry maker RIM has tweeted: “We feel for those impacted by the riots in London. We have engaged with the authorities to assist in any way we can.” 

While Twitter buzzes with the usual British mentality of making light of a very, very bad situation – – comparing it to an Arab Spring about plasma TVs – it’s irrefutable proof in the power of organising online, whether it’s for a noble cause or otherwise. The rioters of London have learned crowdsourced theft.