A guide to the riots in London—and online

Sporadic looting and rioting continue around London and have spread throughout the country as incidents have been reported elsewhere in Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, and Bristol.

The riots follow the death of 29-year-old Tottenham resident Mark Duggan during an alleged gunfight with police last Thursday. What started as peaceful protests outside Tottenham’s police station escalated to full-blown localized riots but began to spread widely over the begining of the week.

Focusing on Twitter, Daily Dot reporter Dave Copeland looked at the use of BlackBerry’s private messaging system among organizers. Copeland pointed out reports making it apparent the police had been able to infiltrate the network by Sunday afternoon. A point which became abundantly clear as BlackBerry yesterday agreed to open the encrypted system to Metropolitan Police seeking information on the looters.

Reddit has provided tremendous insight on the rioting and the on-ground effects in London’s north end and beyond. Our Kevin Morris compared what he found through the lens of Reddit to what he would typically find through Twitter.

“Social news site Reddit is quickly becoming an excellent source for first-hand accounts of breaking news, as we reported yesterday. Like Twitter, it’s a readily available outlet for personal storytelling. But fostered by discussion and the high value the  Reddit community places on detailed eyewitness reports, these narratives reach a level of depth impossible in 140 characters or less.”

Perhaps as a reminder that Twitter is still incredibly important to the flow of information, today Dave Copeland followed up with another look at the internet based organization of efforts to mitigate the damage done by rioters and looters by orgainizing an army of locals to clean up the aftermath.

As helpful as Twitter can be, it can turn to snark and sarcasm in an instant. As the looting wears on, Twitter’s mood is becoming less supportive.

Grant Robertson

Grant Robertson

Grant Robertson is a software engineer and product manager, but he started his career at the Daily Dot as a senior editor focused on data-driven journalism. He previously served as an editor for Download Squad and AOL's Digital Music Weblog.