Monday Jan 16, 201709:57 PM GMT
'Twitter had no role in UK unrest'
Fri Dec 9, 2011 8:39PM
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A study of 2.4 million Twitter messages from the time of the August unrests rejects British officials' claims that the media played an important role in inciting protesters.

The study, which was funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), shows that the social networking site was a force for good during the unrest across London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Nottingham, and Manchester.

The JISC included experts from the universities of Manchester, Leicester, St Andrews and Wolverhampton, and University College London (UCL).

"Politicians and commentators were quick to claim that social media played an important role in inciting and organising riots, calling for sites such as Twitter to be closed should events of this nature happen again, “ said Professor Rob Procter from the University of Manchester, who led the team.

"But our study found no evidence of significance in the available data that would justify such a course of action in respect to Twitter."

"In contrast, we do find strong evidence that Twitter was a valuable tool for mobilising support for the post-riot clean-up and for organising specific clean-up activities," he added.

The analysis of messages was undertaken through the project of National e-Infrastructure for Social Science Simulation (NeISS), which was funded by JISC.

Torsten Reimer, the JISC programme manager responsible for NeISS, said, “The influence of social media on society is growing rapidly so we need a much better understanding of their impact on people's lives.”

The British Prime Minister David Cameron had considered restricting online social networking media after unrests swept across Britain in August. Also, the UK High Court passes four-year jail sentences for two protesters, who had posted messages on Facebook during the unrest.

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