Social media can help to keep the Olympics safeby Jamie Bartlett / July 18, 2012 / Leave a comment
Published in August 2012 issue of Prospect Magazine
Rapier surface-to-air anti-aircraft missiles have been installed on rooftops in preparation for the London 2012 Olympics © Nirazul/Wikimedia Commons
The Olympics are the country’s biggest peacetime security operation. But as Rapier surface-to-air missile batteries are installed on building rooftops, and HMS Ocean berths in the Thames, equally significant activity is taking place out of sight. London 2012 are the first social media Games, and for the first time security efforts will be extended over this new theatre too.
Since Beijing four years ago, we have shifted our social lives and activities online. Social media is used for good and bad: criminals as well as democratic revolutionaries take advantage of the way it allows us to connect, recruit and organise at speed. Last year’s riots and student demonstrations were a wake-up call to the police of the need to keep up with these changes. Indeed, while a large-scale terrorist attack during the Games is possible, the more likely scenario is a series of low intensity demonstrations and flash-mobs that would cause considerable disruption, economic harm and reputational damage.