In Iran and Egypt, Twitter has played a key role in allowing freedom fighters—unable to use state controlled media to get their message out—to quickly respond to changing events and organize themselves to exert powerful influence for democracy over dictatorship.
But now in Britain we are seeing the flip side. Rioters are using social media to broadcast and agitate, gaining and accelerating momentum in ways that authorities, this time in already-democratic countries facing economic hardship, cannot control.
According to the Associated Press:
“If you’re down for making money, we’re about to go hard in east London,” one looter tweeted.
One man who identified himself only as “Zed” said the riots were “just an excuse for everyone to smash up the place” and that stuff “tastes better when it’s free.”
With financial markets in free fall, domestic budgets facing austerity measures, unemployment at historic highs, and the inequity of wealth continuing to expand here in America, the question is whether the large-scale riots in England will repeat here in the United States.
And if they do, will our technology be used, not to create freedom, but as a key tool in asserting mass rule?
—Photo via the Guardian