UK Riots 2011: Will Britain Curb Social Media?

on August 11 2011 9:02 AM
Britain's Prime Minister Cameron
Prime Minister David Cameron Reuters

Prime Minister David Cameron said he is considering banning social media Web sites like Facebook and Twitter for those suspected of criminal conspiracies following the UK riots this week.

According to The Guardian, Cameron stated during a House of Commons debate Thursday that he is considering the ban in order to prevent widespread message spreading via the Internet, since the rioters are believed to have coordinated their attacks through  social networking sites.

Authorities suspect mass organization for the four days of riots was prearranged using Twitter, Facebook and BlackBerry Messenger and are looking into the feasibility of a ban.

"Everyone watching these horrific actions will be struck by how they were organized via social media," Cameron said. "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 Web sites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality."

Cameron said Home Secretary Theresa May will meet with Facebook, Twitter and Research in Motion, the makers of BlackBerry, to addresses issues regarding criminal activity conducted via social media. He has already urged gatekeepers of Facebook and Twitter to remove content that could provoke more riots.

 "All of them should think about their responsibility and about taking down those images," Cameron said to The Guardian.

Police have already arrested people for rousing rebellion on social networking Web sites, notably in Southampton. Cameron is mulling over the idea of a ban as a part of his strategy to restore order.

However, many have criticized Cameron's idea to place a ban on social media, saying it violates free speech and privacy.

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