Cameron Weighs Social Media Ban to Quell Violence

'We need to stop' use of such outlets to organize mayhem: Prime Minister
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Aug 12, 2011 1:18 AM CDT
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron leaves Downing Street in London, to attend Parliamnet, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2011. Parliament has been recalled in the wake of widespread rioting. An emergency session...   (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
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(Newser) – British Prime Minister David Cameron is calling some unusual characters on the carpet for the violence that rocked England this week: Twitter, Facebook, and Blackberry. In fact, social media played such a key role in the unrest that Cameron is considering blocking users from the systems to prevent violence in the future. "Everyone watching these horrific actions will be struck by how they were organized via social media," he told parliament yesterday. "When people are using social media for violence, we need to stop them." Officials are now examining "whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder, and criminality," said Cameron.

It's not yet clear exactly what that might involve—whether the systems could somehow be suspended or certain users blocked. The general idea apparently has wide-ranging support, even among the opposition, notes CNN. "Free speech is central to our democracy, but so is public safety and security," said a Labor official. Twitter has refused to block accounts or delete posts, but Facebook said it has already shut down pages that incite violence. Research in Motion's Inside Blackberry blog was hacked this week after company officials agreed to work with police to help identify rioters who used Blackberry Messenger for a call to violence.

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