Londoners respond to riots with #RiotCleanup and… CatchaLooter

As we’ve seen in the last couple of days, a combination of technologies appears to have helped rioters and looters in London, and other parts of the UK, co-ordinate their efforts, just as these technologies were used to more noble ends in the Arab Spring. That’s the thing with tech – human beings are involved and they can use it for good or evil. The tech itself is neither good or bad.

But the picture that is emerging in London is that the private group messaging available on BlackBerry Messaging was almost certainly useful for spreading ‘targets’ for the riots, while Twitter and Facebook became an amplifier once a incident had got going, drawing others in. That’s attracted a statement by the Police that anyone inciting violence on social networks will have to deal with the authorities.

Well, just as looters have used tech to co-ordinate, Londoners have resorted to their own methods of reacting to the situation in a crowd-sourced manner.

A hashtag has started trending in relation to the inevitable the cleanup: #RiotCleanup and other variants like #Lewishamriotcleanup. [Update: Someone is co-ordinating times on]

Another response has been to start mapping where incidents occurred.

But tonight a brand new crowd-sourced response appeared: CatchaLooter (@Catchalooter on Twitter)

This is a Tumblr blog where people are encouraged to submit images of looters. Is this 21st Century vigilantism? Or is the just a faster response than the Police would ever be capable of? You decide.

Here’s a few of the images so far: