While social media played a big role in the uprisings in the places like Iran and Egypt, it’s been somewhat less of a factor in the pockets of civil unrest seen in the UK over the past week.
A quick overview might suggest that this is due to the fact the rioting and looting in England is far less of a political issue, and more driven by desire for free swag while the getting is good. But despite a lack of political motivation, teens haven’t entirely declined to “organize” via social networks- and police in Britain have snagged some would-be rioters for organizing their crimes… on Facebook.
One 16-year-old Glasgow teen was allegedly found to be inciting riots on Facebook (inspired by the footage and news of youth engaging in similar behavior down south) and he was due to appear in court today on charges relating to his Facebook postings. An 18-year-old man has been charged with similar offenses after police say he urged peers to gather in Dundee city centre with weapons to riot as well, and that teen was also expected to appear in court in his jurisdiction.
Police in England report several pockets of youth using social networks to promote riots as “events,” with one 19-year-old woman in West Yorkshire arrested for “encouraging violent disorder” after creating a Facebook event and inviting people to it. Two more teens have been apprehended for similar behavior:
An Essex Police spokesman said an 18-year-old man from Grays and a 16-year-old youth from South Ockendon were arrested late last night on suspicion of incitement to commit violent disorder.
Both are alleged to have used social networking sites and messaging systems to encourage others to gather and become involved in violent disorder in Essex and London. Both remain in police custody.
Of the spate of teen arrests stemming from Facebook postings, a police spokesman said law enforcement will “continue to monitor such sites for any unlawful activity and will act swiftly to prevent disorder.”