Social media has been an integral part of the riots in England, both for good and for bad. Though many blame quick, wide-scale communication for mobilizing and then prolonging the riots, social media has also been a tool for good.
For instance, a few days ago Londoners took to Twitter to help orchestrate a giant cleanup operation. Using the @RiotCleanup Twitter account and #riotcleanup hashtag, activists mobilized thousands to take to the streets to aid in the restoration.
One story in particular caught the attention of the internet. An 89-year old barber named Aaron Biber had his barbershop destroyed by rioters. They smashed windows, stole various items and left the inside in a state of disarray. The photo above caught fire online, even appearing on the front page of Reddit a couple days ago under the heading "He's 89 and just discovered that his barbershop was totally destroyed by London Riots." That post received 1271 upvotes and over 600 comments.
Mr. Biber's story was also picked up by various news outlets, including the Wall Street Journal.
Interns at a London advertising agency called BBH decided to take up his cause. Mr. Biber said that he would likely have to shut down his shop because he doesn't have insurance and can't afford all the repairs. So the interns decided to raise the money for him through the internet.
They created a blog called Keep Aaron Cutting. Here's what they say about the project -
Aaron has been in the Tottenham area for 41 years and at 89 is devastated by the damage to his livelihood.
Let's use the internet, spread this and all donate a couple of quid so Aaron can get his shop back up and running so he will not have to worry how he's going to make a living at his old age.
They are asking that people use social media to spread the story, in hopes that they can raise enough money to clean up his shop. currently, over 8,500 people have shared the blog page via Twitter and over 11,200 have shared it to Facebook. People are spreading the word using the Twitter hashtag #KeepAaronCutting.
Here's a short video that the BBH interns did with Mr. Biber -
This fundraising effort is the first project in the BBH intern program "The BBH Barn." Their aim is to "expand and mix both the power advertising wields and youth's inherent energy."
As of right now, the campaign has raised around 31,150 pounds, or around 50,700 American dollars. Sounds like they are well on their way to getting Aaron's stop back up and running.