Written by Emma Vetriano • Published 22nd August 2011 • 2 minute read

In Seth Godin’s book ‘Tribes’ he talks about how groups give ordinary people the chance to lead and make a change. He describes how tribes are about people leading, connecting and ideas; the internet allows people to connect with a variety of groups or ‘tribes’ who share a particular interest, belief or hobby. He talks about how these tribes have the power to turn an idea into a movement.

Met with ppl behind www.riotcleanup.com. Really inspiring work going on. #riotcleanup #nationalconversation pic.twitter.com/kiN4WSB

— Ed Miliband (@Ed_Miliband) August 12, 2011

Digital activism works in the same way; groups of people share the same belief and opinion on a certain subject, may it be political, social or economic. The internet then gives this group of people the power to create a movement and the potential to influence a change.

This week led way to what people anticipate to be a significant moment in British history, the worst riots since the 1980’s. I tend to agree and am sure most will with David Cameron who commented, the riots were “criminality pure and simple”.

Social media has been criticised for enabling those involved to spread news of such riots and even organise them.

However, through the use of social media groups of people are coming together to show a united front. A trending topic on Twitter is #riotcleanup, which has seen people in their hundreds organizing times and places to clean up the damaged streets.

Blogs such as Something Nice for Ashraf have been created to help those who have been badly affected by others inexcusable behaviour. Comments on such sites are in their thousands.

Through the use of social media, digital activists have influenced a petition campaigning for a certain punishment to gain 75,000 signatures. Real-time reports from the scenes have also kept people in the know of where is or isn’t safe to go as well as helping the police.

This demonstrates what Seth Godin calls a ‘movement’, a group of people coming together with the same idea and putting it into action. I, as will many, hope that this is a rare example of what triggers ‘tribes’ or digital activists to share a common idea. But this doesn’t dismiss the fact that social media is a powerful tool, great when we can use it to a brand, person or country’s advantage but equally as damaging when used against us.