Month: August 2011

Buzz Report: Role of Social Media during the London Riots

August 31, 2011

Three days after the London Riots began over the shooting of Mark Duggan, experts are blaming the use of social media platforms such as BlackBerry Messenger and Twitter for the widespread of the senseless violence in London and sadly they may be right.

Due to the perceived anonymity of social media a majority of the rioters have been organizing themselves through the platforms and have also been selecting targets based on information received through the same.

But now a majority of the online community has banded together to speak out against the “hooligans” responsible.

Pages on Facebook such as “Supporting the Met Police against the London rioters” and “United against the London Riots” are well organized. Moreover a few communities have been created recently and have been working continuously to end the violence by providing information, pictures and support to the authorities to combat the situation.

On Twitter topics such as “OperationCupOfTea“, “riotcleanup“ and “ManchesterRiots” have been trending since the beginning of the movement.

The London riots case represents both the best and the worst possible implementation of social media tools. Especially authorities have yet not fully understood how things in the cyber world work and underestimated the consequences for the world consequences.

The Social Impact

Social media is now an incredibly powerful tool. On one hand to keep in touch with friends or market your products cheaply, on the other it was the key driving factor behind the fall of Mubarak in Egypt.

Media sites such as BBM, Facebook and Twitter have now been turned into the weapon of choice for both the online and offline community in order to organize themselves towards a single purpose. In London the rioters used BBM to identify potential targets and evade the law, while in Egypt it was used to give voice for the people’s views against Mubarak and set locations for peace marches.

Trending topics on Twitter like “Pray for London” and “Riot cleanup” have now proved how social media has evolved from more than just a popular topic of the day.

Daily Volume

Regarding to the Daily Buzz Volume the peak was during the 6th and 10th of August, 2011. Earlier number of comments was immensely lower.

Share of Voice

79% of the comments were posted on Microblogs. Followed by, 14% of the buzz on Media Types-Other, 6% on Message Boards/Forums and 1% of Blog entries.

Sentiment Analysis

45% of the buzz captured was neutral in nature. The negative coverage (31%) was higher than the positive coverage (24%).


A demographics breakdown is depicted in the below chart. 57% of the total coverage on social media was generated by male users.

Key Themes in Conversation

  • Parenting: 38.6 posts/day
  • Tottenham: 38 posts/hour
  • Pray for London: 3.3 posts/minute
  • Riot cleanup: 3.6 posts/hour
  • UK riots: 50 posts/minute
  • London riots: 23.4 posts/minute

Most Discussed Subjects

  • Youths looting during London riots: 6.1 posts/hour
  • People arrested for London riots: 69.1 posts/hour
  • Shops robbed during London riots:  16.5 posts/hour
  • Role of Police: 2.3 posts/minute

Arab Spring and the London Riots – The Connection

The London Riots and Arab Spring both started by the death of a single person, both having claims to be the child of the internet. Although vastly different in their purpose these two events are strikingly similar concerning their execution and the role of social media.

For example BBM and Twitter has been a major tool during the Arab spring. They served as an early warning system to the peaceful protesters during the riots. As a result the government tried to shut down the services.

The major difference is based on the reaction of the online community towards the events.

These cases represent how the voice of the people is amplified and heard by social media platforms and how governments need to focus on interacting and listening for understanding the needs of the people.

Scope Note:

This Buzz Report monitors trends and themes that recently buzzed on various social media platforms.  The search was conducted on all social media platforms in Arabic and English. The focus of the research was on global social media conversations and social media trends reflect the sentiment towards the London Riots. For more details write to us at