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London riots: Focus on BlackBerry, social media

News18test sharma |

Updated: August 9, 2011, 1:28 PM IST
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London riots: Focus on BlackBerry, social media
BlackBerry and social networking sites played a key role in organising and coordinating the riots.

London: Mobile technology such as BlackBerry Messenger and social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook played a key role in organising and coordinating riots across London, according to the police.

The riots over the last two days began in Tottenham and have since spread to areas such as Walthamstow, Oxford Circus, Islington and Enfield.

The unrest has already been called 'Britain's first 21st century riot'.

Groups of people who appeared to move and attack police and shops together used latest mobile phone technology that allows users to communicate instantly with others on their networks. The protest against the police killing of Mark Duggan was partly coordinated on Facebook.

The protest later turned violent, with buildings, cars and a bus set on fire, most of it captured instantly on Twitter.

"The BlackBerry phone, one of the first devices to offer mobile email, was once the preserve of business leaders and political aides but has become increasingly popular with members of urban gangs and teenagers," The Telegraph reported.

Duggan, whose shooting by police sparked the disturbances, used Blackberry Messenger to send his last message to his girlfriend, Semone Wilson: "The Feds are following me."

In Tottenham, news of Duggan's shooting were spread by BlackBerry. Incorrect information was also circulated.

On Saturday night, rioters and spectators filmed the mayhem using mobile phones and camcorders and quickly posted the footage on Youtube.

A reader wrote in to the Telegraph: "People using BlackBerrys to loot and rob, destroy peoples shops and properties? Haven't we been here before with the bankers? No real difference, except the one is viewed as perfectly legal, the other a crime....end result the same though."

Throughout the night, Twitter was flooded with street-slang-filled accounts of the riot.

A BBC crew was attacked while delivering a live broadcast, forcing the channel and Sky News to withdraw their satellite trucks.

In their absence, many turned to Twitter for a stream of eyewitness reports and photographs posted by local residents.

First Published: August 9, 2011, 1:28 PM IST
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