Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Anti-Social Media

Social media is a very powerful tool. Much more powerful, sadly, than the brains of many of its users.

Last night, Facebook and Twitter became perfect vehicles for disseminating misinformation, malicious and misguided rumours. For all the valid information that was shared, equally as much fear seemed to have been spread.

There was, as I posted last night, no truth to rumours of riots in Worcester Park, but that didn't stop the panic and concern spreading and the misinformation continuing. Funny, no doubt, for those spreading it but less amusing for those with friends, family or businesses in Worcester Park who were left fearing the worst.

In Sutton, contrary to the flurry of social media reports, there were no fires and no police officers injured . There was minor damage to a handful of retailers in the town centre and thefts from two shops – one in central Sutton and one in the Rosehill area. Three people have been arrested in connection with the central Sutton theft.

In Sutton there was a large police presence to manage a group of youths aged mostly between 13 and 19 – many of whom were spectators. Reports of an increase in residential burglaries were also unfounded.

Sutton's Town Centre Partnership took the step of advising pubs and clubs to close early last night and Sutton's town centre manager was on the scene to provide advice to traders and local people.

Sutton Council's Street Scene teams were in the town centre from first thing this morning to clear up a small amount of debris so that shops could open on time this morning.

All of Sutton's police officers are now on 12 hour shifts, with rest days cancelled. Tonight the police will again provide a large and highly mobile visible presence to protect local people and businesses.

The council's Twitter feed and website will be regularly updated with accurate information following a number of false reports last night about events in Sutton on social networking sites.