By Francesca James
David Cameron has threatened to consider restrictions to social networks in an effort to curb recent rioting, that hasn't been seen on our streets since the 1980s.
"Free flow of information can be used for good, but it can also be used for ill"
"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."
Mr Cameron's comments on censoring or shutting down social media come after several days of headlines about rioters and looters organising and encouraging violence over Facebook and Twitter.
In his speech, he continued to say that the government is working with the police to establish "whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality"
It does appear that social media is being used as a scapegoat for government, desperately trying to pin the blame on something or someone.
There is no denying that Blackberry messenger has been of upmost importance in the mobilising of large groups of rioters up and down the country however, personally I saw little other than positivity being promoted via twitter.
Lets not forget, the social media platforms that are being blamed for the rioting also offered an extremely positive side, and sterling efforts from @riotcleanup and its 'Riot Wombles' UK wide saw hundreds of broom wielding helpers taking to the streets to clean up the mess.
It will come as no surprise that the idea of censoring heavily used platforms such as Facebook and Twitter has sparked an incredible amount of opposition:
Mike Southon, Financial Times columnist and entrepreneur mentor says that "It's pointless trying to stop social networks.
"Various totalitarian regimes have tried to do so, and were as successful as King Canute."
"Cameron should embrace Twitter and Facebook, concentrating on supporting the Riot Wombles and leave the police and courts to deal with the rioters"
Social Media strategist Jemima Gibbons described the idea as:
"A typical knee-jerk reaction that hasn't been thought through in the slightest: how on earth is it going to implemented/ policed? Will suspects or formerly-convicted individuals be prohibited completely from using BBM or Twitter or simply when certain keywords are mentioned? And what about freedom of expression/ speech? Talk about shooting the messenger!"
Denis Campbell, Editor & CEO UK Progressive Magazine and author of soon to be released 'Egypt Unsh@ckled' says that:
“Any attempt by David Cameron to restrict social media access will be as successful as Hosni Mubarak’s attempt to turn off the Internet at the start of the 18 day Egyptian Revolution."
In Denis's book, Egypt Unsh@ckled he says that:
"The pro-democracy youth, aided by multiple hacking groups and technology experts around the globe, defeated Mubarak’s shutdown in a weekend. They then asked those in Tahrir Square with password protected routers to turn off the password so people in the Square with smart phones could use their signal. They also used crude Cairo streetlight poles to fashion homemade overnight charging stations. Protestors in the UK will be similarly inspired/aided and find ways around any blockade. So, like with most government systems, a temporary knee-jerk reaction blinds your ability to track and hundreds of thousands of innocents are shut down to get at those who won’t play by the rules no matter what you do.”
Therefore it seems that technology merely provides yet another, albeit faster channel of communication to individuals that can be harnessed for both good and bad. The Brixton uprising in 1981 proves that that technology isn't needed for large scale uprisings and that perhaps the government should be pointing the finger elsewhere.