Over the past week we have seen riots all over the country. Most of the rioting has been contained to the London area, where some horrible scenes have unfolded.

But how did this all happen? How did people know to riot, and where?

It would appear that today’s social media contributed to the events that unfolded. With the help of Twitter, Facebook, Blackberry messaging and texting, it is now believed that this contributed to many of the groups of rioters being able to organise themselves and group together.

Due to the large effect this had, the government are now debating whether or not, during possible future events, they would be able to control social media more effectively. It is believed that the Home Secretary is meeting with representatives from Facebook, Twitter and RIM (the makers of the Blackberry) to talk about what they can do during times of unrest.

Further arguments against these forms of media during times of unrest revolve around how quickly information is able to spread. Many believe that some of the actions of the rioters were fuelled by rumours and misconceptions portrayed on sites such as Twitter. Creating a ‘Chinese whisper’ effect which was then passed on at an alarming rate.

But if the Government had power over these networks and were able to shut them down during these times then this would undermined a fundamental element of our society – free speech.

And one must also not forget that is was the Twitter and Facebook users that came together and used the power of social media to create a clean-up campaign after the riots. What started off as just a few people with brooms turned into thousands of people willing to give their time to cleaning up their streets.

Another positive aspect of using Facebook and Twitter, is that police can look at profiles and can see who says what. The police have already made arrests, for those stupid enough to brandish the items they stole while looting, and they will look at what was being said on these sites to see if they can arrest people who were helping to incite the riots.

So while some people may have used these platforms to fuel the riots, there were also many others out there using it for the greater good. 

Do you think the Government should have greater control over social media or did you use it over the last few days to voice your opinion? We would love you hear your comments!