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

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. identicon
    LD, 11 Aug 2011 @ 6:47pm

    Re: Calm them down

    Yes, the public mood is often based on a them and us mentality, and with recent UK street protests - be they anti-war, anti-cuts, anti-student-fees, anti-capitalist or environmental - the public has been quick to call "police brutality", sometimes even when the police had little choice but to use force. The public saw the police as "them".

    That's why, this time, the police treated the riots as a public order problem rather than a crimewave, thought a light touch would avoid inflaming the situation, and were attempting to "win hearts and minds" with a less aggressive approach. Since hitting rioters with a big stick had previously proved unpopular with the public, they tried just collecting evidence instead.

    The public response was "the police did nothing", "where were the police" or even "send in the army". This time, to the public, the rioters were the "them". Only once the police and government were sure of this were more officers and a more aggressive policing style deployed to successfully quell the riots in London, actually increasing community confidence in the police.

    Winning hearts and minds does not always mean treading softly.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.