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Tech Entrepreneur Defends Twitter After Riots

Article date: Wed, 24 Aug 2011 10:37 GMT

Lawrence Jones, MD of UKFast

Technology entrepreneur and influential tweeter, Lawrence Jones, is defending Twitter as a valuable business tool and community building mechanism as it receives criticism in the wake of the riots.

The founder and CEO of hosting specialist, UKFast and one of Manchester's most prolific tweeters, said Twitter was being used as a scapegoat by senior figures who are failing to address the real issues that caused violence to flare across the country earlier this month.

Reacting to suggestions that the social networking site was partly responsible for facilitating August's riots, Jones highlighted its uses as a corporate and community communications tool.

"Twitter and Facebook played a key role in the riots and the aftermath but they weren't the cause. There's a chance that blame could be placed with social networks unjustifiably and the real issues won't be tackled.

"If it wasn't Twitter and Blackberry, those people who wanted to riot would have found other ways of communicating with each other.

Responding to Prime Minister David Cameron's suggestions that Facebook, Twitter and Research in Motion (RIM), the maker of Blackberry, should take more responsibility for content posted on their networks, Jones said:

"Of course, social networks played a part in the organisation of the rioting but they also allowed for a much more efficient and effective clean-up."

"If politicians are looking for a scapegoat, they might want to take a look in the mirror. The problems we face now pale into insignificance to the ones our children face if we do not invest in proper education that competes on a global scale."

Jones continues: "David Cameron's comments show a real lack of understanding of what really is at the heart of the problem. We have to educate people on how to live their lives responsibly rather than blame the technology that they misuse."

Referring to the campaigns launched on Twitter during the first hours of rioting in Manchester that organised city-centre clean-ups to begin the next morning, Jones said:

"Manchester did itself proud after the IRA bomb - it took a decade, but the clean-up and the recovery is a cause still set in motion. Imagine if we had social networking tools at our disposal then. Imagine what we could have done and how quickly we could have done it. The effective clean-up in Manchester and Salford after the riots wouldn't have been possible without Twitter.

"Twitter is proving itself as an incredibly valuable source of news at grassroots level across the globe. Greater Manchester Police demonstrated the value of the social networking tool both during and after the riots. They not only kept people informed with instantaneous updates, they also used the tool to identify the culprits by tracking their IP addresses.

"I think the riots made lots of business people sit up and recognise the importance of being able to communicate effectively through social networks. Politicians are amongst some of the early adopters of Twitter, I can't imagine they'd want to sacrifice this very effective PR tool."


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