OPINION17 August 2011

Social media information ‘wrong and rather silly’

Tools of democracy they may be, but Twitter and the Blackberry Messenger service were also used by the Metropolitan Police to gather intelligence on planned riots in London last week and make sure officers were on the scene ahead of troublemakers.

The BBC reports that Assistant Met Commissioner Lynne Owens told a committee of MPs that the police gathered intelligence about the possible targeting of Oxford Street, the Westfield shopping centres and the Olympic site.

Owens said that the force had to sift through an “overwhelming amount” of data to find information. Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin told MPs that he had considered asking authorities to switch off the social networks altogether. He added that the police were receiving pieces of new information every second about trouble in 22 of London’s 32 boroughs, but much of the data from social media was “obviously wrong and rather silly”. We’d be interested to hear if brands engaged in social media monitoring feel the same.