An area of London known as Tottenham has been besieged by fires, looters and riots over the weekend, amid claims that the rioters used Facebook to coordinate efforts.
We’ve reported on Facebook’s role in organizing many other flash mobs; for example, in Vancouver when the Canucks lost the NHL finals. And less serious riots, like when a German teen forgot to set her privacy settings and had a mob crash her house party.
What’s unique about the London riots is the level of violence that Tottenham is experiencing — despite a long history of racial tension — and the almost singular role that social media, from Facebook to Twitter (both accessed via BlackBerry) is playing in mobilizing rioters.
The Telegraph is reporting that BlackBerry’s parent company Research In Motion is helping police in investigating these riots, since messages sent on RIM’s messaging service cannot be traced.
According to The Guardian , Scotland Yard has vowed to track down and arrest protesters who posted “really inflammatory, inaccurate” messages on the service, and the social networking web sites Twitter and Facebook.
The main Facebook page set up in memory of Mark Duggan, the Tottenham resident whose death last week triggered the weekend riots, aimed to ease the violence.
The page has more than 15,000 likes, and the most recent post at this writing is urging calm.