UK Prime Minister Wants To Ban Suspected Rioters From Facebook & Twitter

from the oh-come-on dept

After initially blaming the Blackberry and suggesting that Blackberry's messaging service be shut down to try to quell the UK riots, it seems that UK politicians are trying to up the level of "bad ideas in reaction to riots" with Prime Minister David Cameron suggesting that those who are suspected of rioting be banned from social networks like Twitter and Facebook.
David Cameron has told parliament that in the wake of this week's riots the government is looking at banning people from using social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook if they are thought to be plotting criminal activity.

The prime minister said the government will review whether it is possible to stop suspected rioters spreading online messages, in his opening statement during a Commons debate on Thursday on the widespread civil disorder for which MPs were recalled from their summer recess.
I'm at a loss to see how anyone believes that cutting off communication for people who feel disenfranchised will suddenly make them less interested in rioting. There's this rush by people in charge to think that "if only we could stop them from spreading messages, that will calm them down." That seems likely to be a giant miscalculation. It's not hard to get around any such ban, and instituting such a ban is just likely to piss off the very people they're trying to calm down.

Filed Under: david cameron, free speech, london, pre-crime, riots, social networks, uk
Companies: facebook, rim, twitter


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  1. identicon
    Meee, 11 Aug 2011 @ 4:42pm

    "I'm at a loss to see how anyone believes that cutting off communication for people who feel disenfranchised will suddenly make them less interested in rioting. There's this rush by people in charge to think that "if only we could stop them from spreading messages, that will calm them down." That seems likely to be a giant miscalculation."

    No, the idea is that without social networking, the riots couldn't be pre-planned and organised. There were reports (which I never bothered to follow up so I don't know if they're true or media scaremongering) of various riot groups planning attacks on various places in advance via various systems, and then meeting up there.

    Cameron's plan is apparently to cut that off so there wouldn't be any organisation going on. Because of course, before facebook, instant messaging and twitter, there were literally no riots or organised protests in the entire world.


    Basically this is just Cameron's policies (which can literally be described as "stop trying to help the poor") blowing up in his face and him taking the opportunity to blame anything and everything else. The rioters weren't in any sense "political", they were "purely criminal", the police responses weren't due to his massive funding cuts for all police organisations in the UK, they were because the police "misunderstood the situation", the high levels of organisation weren't because his policies had affected the poor all across the country in exactly the same way leading to the same response, it's because "they're using social media to organise".

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