We’ve all witnessed the part played by social networking this week with the riots and looting being fuelled by the widespread use of the free Blackberry messenger service among the youth.

How has this happened? Well, Blackberrys are high functioning phones but typically cost less than smart phones.  If you are a Twitter user you would go for an iphone or Android because of the wide range of client apps. But these don’t run the free BBM network, and BBM is the only group messaging service that has taken hold in the UK so far.

As a result of Blackberrys free messenger service we now have 37% of 12-24 year olds using Blackberry and the iphone is more popular with the 25-30 year olds. So there we have the wisely chosen method of communication for youth because they can communicate for virtually free. Who can blame them for that?

Add into this that BBM is fast and above all private, it has now got the label of “ a shadow social network” which is invisible to police snooping.  Of course it is ridiculous to claim the rioting would not have happened if BBM and Twitter didn’t exist.

Where BBM has played its part is in the mobilisation of crowds of youth turning up simultaneously in different places because of the speed of communication. Of course our emergency services cannot compete with the response times.

Blackberry are working with the authorities to help with the situation. Let’s hope they come up with a solution.

Maybe Blackberry marketing strategy needs to change? They have typically targeted youth through sponsoring secret gigs in Shoreditch featuring big names from the UK rap scene and of course they have jay-z as their spokesperson in the States.