The recent riots across the UK brought to light a concern that many of us have shared since the popularity of social media tools hit what can only be described as gargantuan proportions.
With everyone from your little brother to your granny accessing the web to view My Space, twitter, YouTube and facebook accounts it was only a matter of time before things started to get out of hand.
I’m all for social media, when it is managed properly. Some people say that you shouldn’t ‘manage’ social media and that it is all about opinion and engagement, which in part I agree with, but as a PR agency it is our job to identify what is being said, monitor conversation and where appropriate contribute.
Where it all starts to fall apart is when people take freedom of speech too literally and start to become abusive and aggressive. Using any communication tools to incite violence and most recently cause mass scale damage to cities throughout the country simply can’t be considered right or appropriate on any level.
It’s a sad state of affairs but we have to think about why people choose to be so destructive and manipulative, is it because there are more ways to communicate now and the ease of doing so to a mass market is both simple and cost effective.
Although I don’t think we should end up like some countries in the world where communications are monitored so closely that freedom of speech is all but abolished and the news agenda is manipulated, there have to be some measures put in place to deter those who simply want to cause trouble.
Despite the fact that many people are saying that the sentencing of rioters and those who were said to be trying to cause further trouble and incite violence was harsh, I think it sends out a very clear message – however you choose to communicate, remember that you are responsible for you own actions and with social media, everything you do can and will be monitored online via a worldwide source.