"5 Days in August" – How London Local Authorities Used Twitter during the 2011 Riots

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Abstract

This study examines effects of microblogging communications during emergency events based on the case of the summer 2011 riots in London. During five days in August 2011, parts of London and other major cities in England suffered from extensive public disorders, violence and even loss of human lives. We collected and analysed the tweets posted by the official accounts maintained by 28 London local government authorities. Those authorities used Twitter for a variety of purposes such as preventing rumours, providing official information, promoting legal actions against offenders and organising post-riot community engagement activities. The study shows how the immediacy and communicative power of microblogging can have a significant effect at the response and recovery stages of emergency events.