Social media: Aiding chaos?
As England came to terms with the mass riots that occurred in the country, questions have been raised on how the situation became so severe in a matter of few days. After the disorder was quelled, the authorities swiftly moved to punish the perpetrators and point out the methods employed by the rioters. Unsurprisingly, social media was blamed for aiding the rioters in organising themselves which resulted in looting and civil unrest. Similar incidents occurred in the US earlier this month where social media fuelled flash-mob violence in several American cities. These incidents prompted a debate on the negative aspects of social media with some sections calling for a curb on social communication channels.
Social media’s ability to turn communication into interactive dialogue allowed the rioters to mobilize themselves in numbers that were difficult to control. As social media is not under any regulation, the authorities could not take any action that would have resulted in better control of the situation. Now the on-going debate about negative uses of social media has reached the top echelons of governments in some countries. While some made social media as a scapegoat to hide their own shortcomings, others have raised justifiable questions about the problems that could arise through negative use of social media.
The debate on the negative uses of social media is certainly required, however, the entire premise of such debates cannot be focused upon blaming social media entirely. Violent gangs have existed in the past while riots have also occurred sporadically. Social media has just become a tool for the rioters to achieve what they intended to and that is organised looting and violence. Violent instincts in some sections of the population were the main reason for the unrest as some members of society were quick to embrace them.
Social media itself cannot be blamed entirely even though it was used by the rioters to organise themselves. Rather than curbing the use of social media, something that has been ferociously opposed by free speech supporters, a monitoring mechanism should be in place to limit and curtail negative use. As the use of social media platforms becomes more widespread, the solution lies in monitoring not fighting technology as the means to an end.