Friday, August 12, 2011

UK to ban social media?

In response to this week's riots in London following the death of Mark Dugan, David Cameron has told parliament that the government is looking to ban people from popular social networking sites if they are suspected of plotting criminal activity. It is a popular notion that Blackberry's BBM and Twitter have played a huge role in fanning the flames of unrest in London.

Cameron said he would meet with Facebok and Twitter to discuss whether it is possible to limit the spread on online messages in connection with acts of rioting, looting or other criminal activity.

It looks like Cameron is taking a leaflet out of NYPD's book and exaggerating it a bit. Social media isn't the only thing Cameron is after, he is also requesting that broadcasters hand over unused footage to police in connection with the riots in order to bring more criminals to justice, which has been vehemently protested when attempted previously.

Of the riots in connection to social media, Cameron had this to say: “Everyone watching these horrific actions will be struck by how they were organised via social media. Free flow of information can be used for good. But it can also be used for ill. And when people are using social media for violence we need to stop them. So we are working with the police, the intelligence services and industry to look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality. I have also asked the police if they need any other new powers. Police were facing a new circumstance where rioters were using the BlackBerry Messenger service, a closed network, to organise riots. We've got to examine that and work out how to get ahead of them.”


But how does one know when a riot is going to occur, and is it social medias responsibility to alleviate rage that users already feel? It isn't as if Mark Zuckerberg used Facebook as a call to action asking people to riot and loot the streets of London. Participants in the riot created a reactionary response to Mark Duggans killing and utilised their phone and computers to organise an uprising. The uprising itself was not born from social media.
Cameron however, has said he will do "whatever it takes" to bring order to the nation after the acts of civil disobedience.
Police are already taking action against rioters and have arrested three people in Southhampton under suspicions or inciting violence through Twitter and BBM. (CBS) (Daily Mirror)