As the day goes on I'm hearing, through my PA, of things kicking off in Wandsworth, Tulse Hill, Camberwell, Brixton, Streatham, Elephant and Castle, Walworth Road...
Messages are coming through her Blackberry alerting people to potential trouble spots; these messages are by way of warning people, not an invitation to join in any illegal activity.
However, as these messages wing around from Blackberry to Twitter to Facebook to iPhone to Beebo, through this web of social networks are they becoming a self-fulfilling prophesy?
For example, 'A' gets a message from 'B' about an incident, say, in Stockwell. There is no corroboration just 'be careful things are kicking off in Stockwell'. By the time this message has circulated amongst hundreds, if not thousands, of people what may have, or not, been an incident in Stockwell has attracted scores or hundreds of people, some curious some out to cause trouble.
Yes, social media can be a great way to mobilise people; as well as an excellent means of communicating messages and information immediately. But it can also be used as a medium to generate interest, or to create an occurrence where previously none existed.
Thus, as I advised my PA, beware of individuals creating situations out of the smoke of fear and confusion; if enough people respond to these social networking media they can easily be sucked into a self-fulfilling prophesy.