Over the last few years we have seen BlackBerry Messenger grow in popularity, however we have recently heard how it played a massive part in the recent London riots, obviously it is not RIM’s fault, however it just goes to show how social media and instant messaging services can be exploited by criminals.
A recent Guardian.co.uk article suggests that during these riots people used BBM to broadcast messages to all of their contacts, this combined with Twitter and Facebook resulted in the word spreading very quickly, however as most BBM messages are untraceable by the authorities the rioters probably preferred this means of communication.
Below we have one of the broadcasted messages which probably hit hundreds, if not thousands of BlackBerry users in and around London:
“Everyone from all sides of London meet up at the heart of London (central) OXFORD CIRCUS!!, Bare SHOPS are gonna get smashed up so come get some (free stuff!!!) fuck the feds we will send them back with OUR riot! >:O Dead the ends and colour war for now so if you see a brother… SALUT! if you see a fed… SHOOT!”
Another message which was broadcasted read:
“Everyone in edmonton enfield wood green everywhere in north link up at enfield town station at 4 o clock sharp!”.
The former mayor of London, Jenny Jones, suggested that the police force could have picked up on the upcoming riots if they weren’t under resourced, that said we think that it is hard to distinguish whether tweets and status updates are simply designed to throw the police of the scent or in fact an accurate lead, if the police took every tweet and Facebook status update seriously police would have their work cut out to investigate each threat etc.
We wonder if similar things will happen in the future, if so what do you think RIM can do to help authorities, should social networking websites such as Twitter and Facebook be able to do more to stop such things happening, or should freedom of speech be allowed? We would love to hear your thoughts on this matter.