Twitter used in London riot clean-up

If the London riots were largely fueled by BlackBerry Messenger, the massive clean-up effort in their wake has gained traction on Twitter.

A Twitter feed called Clean Up London (@Riotcleanup) launched early Tuesday, following the third consecutive night of rioting and looting in London. The account has already amassed more than 75,000 followers, providing frequent, crowd-sourced updates on locations where volunteers were most needed with the handy hashtag "#riotcleanup."

"Anyone in Hackney," one tweet read, "Please let us know if were needed and where ASAP." That tweet was followed by another ("Hackney Town Hall at 10am") and finally "Hackney is clean too. This city is resilient."

As a result, "#riotcleanup" was the top trending Twitter topic in London, above "#PrayForLondon" and "#londonriots," which was trending worldwide.

The use of Twitter in a local clean-up effort recalls Newark Mayor Cory Booker's use of social media during a December 2010 blizzard. Booker used Twitter to communicate with the city's residents on dig-out efforts in real-time. (Booker was applauded for his efforts, while New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's slow response to the storm sparked widespread criticism.)

The Clean Up London feed also started a "#riotwombles" hashtag for those helping with the clean-up effort. ("The Wombles," fictional, furry creatures from a popular '70s children's television show, were known for recycling; their motto was "make good use of bad rubbish.")

It's not entirely clear who is behind the feed. The operator did not immediately return a Twitter message seeking comment. According to the BBC, Dan Thompson, a 37-year-old artist, was "behind the initial Twitter campaign."

On Monday, media outlets (including The Cutline) reported that London's rioters had apparently been using BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) to mobilize.

The free instant message service--which requires BlackBerry users to exchange pin numbers--was used by Tottenham youth, in part, because BBM is a private channel, unlike Facebook and Twitter.