Twitter and the riots
23/08/2011 9:56 am
Was it possible for housing organisations to monitor where riots were likely to break out earlier this month by using Twitter?
If so, what did they look out for? Should landlords be paying more attention to social media as a way of anticipating anti-social behaviour?
Any thoughts or input would be much appreciated.
Sort: Newest first | Oldest first
23/08/2011 10:18 am
'Should landlords be paying more attention to social media as a way of anticipating anti-social behaviour?'
No. Not their job.
23/08/2011 10:19 am
Anon Anon - landlords are neither Police, MI5, nor the Secret Service. They do not have the sort of facility our Government has at Cheltenham, nor can they call up a Nimrod to survey the land.
The clue about the role of housing organisations is in the name 'housing'.
23/08/2011 10:25 am
Agree with Melvin and Chris - social landlords are not the answer to all of communities ills
23/08/2011 3:24 pm
If you think Housing has an important role in promoting community cohesion and social inclusion, and I do, then those who work in Housing need to keep their finger on the pulse of the communities they serve.
The social media ( tweeting and facebook) are one way of " listening in" as well as a way of engaging with young people. Half of those appearing before the courts for looting and rioting have been juveniles.
The Police clearly did monitor social networking sites once they realised rioters were using them as a means of co ordinating their activities.
No doubt there are those who work in housing,youth work and community work who have seen the tensions rising and realised it wouldn't take much to ignite an explosion of violence but most people including the police were caught off guard when it happened. And it's not clear why it happened in some places not others for instance in Birmingham but not Sheffield.
It may have been copy cat criminality, opportunism and thrill seeking but for a small but significant minority higher education is not an option, lengthy period of unemployment seem the most likely prospect, poor housing seems inevitable and a stable family life may be difficult to achieve.
These are not new problems every generation has minority groups who are at risk of exclusion but in times of economic hard ship and high unemployment their numbers are swollen.
We do have the answers, local youth projects, schemes designed to equip young people with the skills and confidence to improve their job prospects, steer them away from criminality and help them find somewhere to live. The trouble is that local authority funding and grants to voluntary groups who carry out this work have been cut in the current harsh financial climate.
The response of the media, politicians and the general public to scenes of violence and looting is to demand Robocop policing and harsh prison sentences not increased grants to youth organisations. Now that the initial shock and out rage has subsided I think those in Housing should add their weight to support both a restoration of police funding so that they have the resources to reasure communities and funding for youth services and employment initatives for young people.
23/08/2011 3:28 pm
I would have expected that housing organisations would have been in regular liaison with the Police and other appropriate agencies who would be advising them regarding the risk of civil unrest and would no doubt be using a range of information gathering techniques, including social media, to determine those areas of risk.
23/08/2011 4:18 pm
@Will - and the monitoring of social networking by landlords will be funded how exactly?
Yes we are in communication and liaison with a range of authorities - which is how we were able to respond to emergencies and decide when to evacuate premises too - such actions are part of our role, but we have neither the resources nor the remit to monitor the range of social network sites, intercept telecommunications, and generally carry out criminal intelligence gathering work in the manner you seem to expect.
It is bad enough when amatures like the Housing Minister expect social landlords to cure all the ills and take all the blame, without professionals jumping on the bandwaggon.
23/08/2011 5:24 pm
Housing organisations are certainly to blame for the riots. They have let gang culture flourish and been very ineffective with their asbos and let their tenants suffers because of this. Now these gangs have gone out rioting and dragging others into it, and all these social housing organisations and social landlords profess to be shocked and alarmed at what has happened. Not only housing orgs and social landlords are being shamefully hypocrite, but instead of defending all their tenants from being blanketed as troublemakers most of them have joined into victimising them all with new punishing measures of evictions.
24/08/2011 12:14 pm
Love it or hate it, social media is a massive industry which should not be ignored. Whilst it is an effective tool for keeping people informed, exchanging views and information, it can also be used in a negative way as we have seen recently.
Although, some social landlords use social media for the purposes I have described, I am not aware of any having used it in the way you suggest. I would be interested to hear if any social landlord has used it in this way. I do not think it is the role of social landlords to use social network sites to gather 'intelligence', nor do I think they can reasonably be expected to do so.
Even the police with their specialist skills in gathering and analysing intelligence were unable to anticipate what happened. No doubt the police will be monitoring social network sites much more closely in future for intelligence gathering and crime prevention. In my view, such activity should be left to the experts.
24/08/2011 1:05 pm
I have to agree with some of the previous comments with regards the role of the housing provider and it's staff - where does the role end? Are staff suitably trained to deal with such instances, and are they resonsible for 'community cohesion' and all that it entails? There can be a perception that existing housing providers are too hands on, therefore sigmatising those in 'social housing' and deeming them uncapable of looking after themselves, or the houses they live in. Compare that to the other 70% who own their homes and have no input from the mortgage companies who usually fund them. If I decide to go on a rampage and lob a brick through some innocent shop-keepers window will I get my mortgage cancelled? Will my house be repossessed? What is the connection between an unlawful event and having your home taken off you?
24/08/2011 2:28 pm
'If I decide to go on a rampage and lob a brick through some innocent shop-keepers window will I get my mortgage cancelled? Will my house be repossessed? What is the connection between an unlawful event and having your home taken off you?'
If you work and pay a mortgage I'd imagine being convicted and sent to the big house would mean you'd lose your home...
As for HA monitoring twitter and FB I'd imagine they have more important things to do.
24/08/2011 3:47 pm
To try and answer your question directly I understand that most of the social media communication used was BBM, or Blackberry messaging.
The interresting thing about BBM is that it is relatively well encrypted and, I understand is a lot more secure in that sense, than other
messaging/texting formats. So in this instance it would have been difficult for housing organisations to track.
BBM also has the advantage that it can 'broadcast' to lots of people whereas Twitter is a bit more random. Even if landords had the staff
to monitor these sites their first port of call would be the Police, who will probably be doing the job a lot better than us non experts! The Facebook 'rioters' who were charged last week, didnt, I gather, manage to get anyone to join in! so not sure that monitoring Facebook
even if possible, seems a good idea. I think it is likely that the Police will become more adept at monitoring the social media in future and may be
more able to let landlords know about possible upcoming flashpoints. Certainly they should have been more aware of the potential for community consternation they caused in Tottenham.