Twitter, Facebook And RIM Stand Against Social Media Bans in England

    August 24, 2011

Shortly after the London/British riots began to subside, British Prime Minister David Cameron discussed banning the technologies that drive social networking platforms like Twitter and Facebook, as well as Blackberry’s instant messaging program. Now, the request did not include a complete removal of these capabilities–mainly, the immediate messaging functionality that allowed these would-be rioters to keep in touch and plan their mayhem.

You can see Cameron’s words in the lead video.

Apparently, the Prime Minister would like British authorities to have the ability to suspend these capabilities during times of social unrest, to which RIM, Twitter and Facebook say, “no thanks.” According to a report in The Guardian, both social networking platforms have no plans on giving such control to the British government:

The major social networks are expected to offer no concessions when they meet the home secretary, Theresa May, at a Home Office summit on Thursday lunchtime.

Control of these services is not the only talking point, either. The report indicates May will inquire about how these services can help hold the accused responsible for their actions, especially when they post tales and images of their work on Facebook/Twitter.

The same goes for RIM, makers of Blackberry. According to many reports, Blackberry Messenger, RIM’s instant messaging service, was an organizational tool of choice for these rioters. Because of that, British authorities would appreciate the various social networking platforms’ assistance in bringing the rioters to justice, or at least take responsibility for the content these users are posting. The Guardian expands:

Twitter and Facebook are expected to outline the steps that both social networks already take to remove messages that potentially incite violence. Facebook, which has 30 million users in the UK, said it had actively removed “several credible threats of violence” to stem the riots across England this month.

As for RIM, they will explain with portions of BBM (Blackberry Messenger) are “private or encrypted.” Apparently, RIM doesn’t have to release any user information unless compelled by a warrant.

All in all, it looks like these meetings will be held under good circumstances, with neither side strong-arming the other into action or the turning over of control of the networks in question. As long as Facebook, Twitter, RIM, and other, similar services that may have been used during the riots are willing to help bring the perpetrators to justice, the issue of control will remain a back-burner issue.


[acting Metropolitan police commissioner, Tim] Godwin told MPs on the home affairs committee last week that police had explored the unprecedented step of switching off social networks, but discovered that they did not have the legal powers to do so.

And neither Twitter, Facebook or RIM are just going to offer these entities the capabilities to do so.