'Anti-social' Networking in Northern Ireland: Policy Responses to Young People's Use of Social Media for Organizing Anti-social Behavior
journal contributionposted on 12.09.2011, 15:52 by Paul Reilly
Ten years after the Belfast Agreement, Northern Ireland remains a divided society as signified by the persistence and even proliferation of interface areas, often divided by so-called ‘peace walls’ and intermittent conflict between rival communities on either side. Recent media reports have suggested that online interactions between rival interface communities on social networking sites may be undermining efforts to foster better intercommunity relationships. This article explores the extent to which key stakeholders are aware of the use of the Internet by young people to plan street riots in interface areas in Northern Ireland and their responses to this ‘anti-social’ use of sites such as Bebo. It presents evidence to suggest that stakeholder awareness about the extent of the use of social media by young people to organize street riots is based on rumour and hearsay. Key stakeholders report that Internet Safety programmes have received positive feedback from local audiences but concede that they are unlikely have any significant impact upon the level of anti-social behavior in interface areas.