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The riot one year later: The effect of social media

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Not only did the Stanley Cup riot unfold live on the radio and TV, but it found a home on social media through real-time updates.

As we continue our series one year later, we look at how what started as young people bragging about the chaos, turned into a way to mobilize clean-up crews and catch those who destroyed the city.

Pictures of young people with Gucci bags, posing in front of cars on fire. Social media glorified the actions of those downtown.

“This younger generation, they like to share. They want to document [their lives]. They want to share these photos and their images and their experiences,” explains Social Media expert Peter Chow-White.

Along with the posts and tweets about what was happening, came disgust from many.

“The second day, social media became good because people could organize clean-ups. People could connect with these experiences.”

The Internet was used as a way to publicly shame rioters. It is where names and pictures will live on in perputity.

“One of the constant risks of increased living online is that we also open ourselves up to surveillance from authorities, but also from who we work for and even surveillance by those who we may be working for [in the future].”

And it’s how VPD Inspector Laurence Rankin says they managed to catch many of the young crooks. “One of the efforts or the goals was to drive the public to the website and that has been very successful and we’ve encouraged the public to continue visiting vpd.ca.”

Rankin adds during the 1994 riot they had 100 hours of VHS tape, now with every teen holding a different kind of cell phone camera, they were dealing with 5000 hours of 100 types of digital video. Technology has upped the need to process witness footage.

Chow-White adds John Furlong’s report into the riot mentioned social media but failed to say how it could help or hinder future ones from happening.

Social media and the Internet has posed problems for the courts as well. With many of the suspected rioters under the age of 18, their names are banned in legal system. But the shaming online and public apologies often identify the accused – forcing the websites to try and scrub the details or be at risk of future legal issues.