Britons use social networking sites to expose rioters

Aug 10, 2011
A sign urging Londoners to be nice to each other is pictured near an underground station in north London. Britons took to social networking sites on Wednesday to expose the rioters who went on the rampage for four nights, posting photos of masked gangs looting and hurling missiles.

Britons took to social networking sites on Wednesday to expose the rioters who went on the rampage for four nights, posting photos of masked gangs looting and hurling missiles.

Much of the violence, which started in London but has since spread to other parts of the country, was captured on mobile phone cameras, video recorders or CCTV, and the images quickly found their way into cyberspace.

London's made a tentative attempt to use social media to track down suspects, putting up 25 photos of youths breaking into shops and lobbing missiles on photo-sharing site .

But the official effort paled in comparison to the surge of activity by amateur web investigators.

One such project is a web page called "Catch A Looter", which has been set up on blog-hosting website tumblr and features dozens of photos from the London riots.

Images showed looters walking out of shops with electrical goods, clothes and bottles and close-up shots of rioters hurling missiles.

The anonymous creator of the site urged web surfers to get in touch with Crimestoppers, a charity that allows people to anonymously pass on information about crimes, if they recognised anyone on the site.

But just a day after it was set up, the creator announced the web page would no longer be updated, saying that with the riots spreading across the country "there are loads of photos and I can barely keep up".

"The beauty of social media is you can put these things up quickly, and take them down again too, without any cost," he said.

Another, more controversial, effort was under way to track down rioters, with a Group set up called "London Riots ".

Members of the group are reportedly using technology similar to Facebook's photo recognition tools to identify looters whose faces appear on the web.

It was quickly restricted to current members of people invited to join after concerns were raised in the media following discussions by the group's members on the legality of using facial recognition.

As well as using the web to hunt rioters, 'netizens' also launched a very British "anti-riot" on Wednesday with a Twitter and Facebook campaign entitled "OperationCupOfTea".

People were asked to "Stay in and drink tea" and post a photo of their beverage online, instead of going on the rampage. The project was one of the top trending topics on Twitter.

Explore further: LinkedIn membership hits 300 million

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

BlackBerry helps Britain's rioters organise

Aug 10, 2011

The rioters causing havoc on British streets have eschewed traditional social networking sites as a way of organising, instead using the encrypted instant chat service on their BlackBerry handsets.

Facebook to suggest friends to tag in users photos

Dec 16, 2010

(AP) -- Facebook will try to make it easier to identify friends in photos uploaded to the social networking site by using facial recognition software to suggest people that users may want to tag.

HP to Acquire Online Photo Company

Mar 23, 2007

Hewlett-Packard's definitive agreement with Tabblo will soon allow users to print text, graphics, photos and other content from the Web.

Recommended for you

LinkedIn membership hits 300 million

21 hours ago

The career-focused social network LinkedIn announced Friday it has 300 million members, with more than half the total outside the United States.

Researchers uncover likely creator of Bitcoin

Apr 18, 2014

The primary author of the celebrated Bitcoin paper, and therefore probable creator of Bitcoin, is most likely Nick Szabo, a blogger and former George Washington University law professor, according to students ...

White House updating online privacy policy

Apr 18, 2014

A new Obama administration privacy policy out Friday explains how the government will gather the user data of online visitors to WhiteHouse.gov, mobile apps and social media sites. It also clarifies that ...

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Moebius
3 / 5 (2) Aug 10, 2011
The revolution will be broadcast.
irjsiq
5 / 5 (1) Aug 11, 2011
" ... saying that with the riots spreading across the country "there are loads of photos and I can barely keep up". ..."
Others could Open more websites. Lots of
Volunteers would be happy to catch as many of these 'expletives deleted's' as possible.
Destruction just for destruction?
How tragic an example of man's ignorance!
pokerdice1
5 / 5 (1) Aug 11, 2011
Hmm grassroots crime fighting.... sounds good to me!

More news stories

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...