Given recent events in the UK (that’ll be the riots) there is a whole meme developing that social media was the catalyst for the riots. Plenty of commentary has been done on this already such as this article. Yet, on the flip side social media has been positioned as community saviour with the #riotcleanup movement.

Go back to the beginning of the year and social media was a force for global democracy with the Arab Spring.


What do we make of Twitter, Facebook, BBM and the rest? Clearly, there is an opportunity to get deep into the communication of groups and the transmission of ideas, but I think the answer is simple. Fundamentally, social media is just a method of communicating. Yes, it’s possible to scale that communication quickly and yes, it facilitates rapid propagation of a message. But no, social media is not inherently good or bad, it is just a tool. To paraphrase:

Social media doesn’t spread ideas, people spread ideas (just not as quickly)