I was quite shocked yesterday when hearing from the PM in the House that he would be looking into restricting social media if a riot was to occur.
The idea of this is complete insanity, the fact that BBM and Twitter were used as a conduit for communication during the riots from those who were organising the location of their anarchy does not mean it should be restricted by all. I was on Twitter at the time of the initial reports, there were several members who would exaggerate and make up tweets and inform others. However on the whole Twitter does indeed self regulate once the addition of common sense is added. All this while it also had a small section of Twitter accounts used to promote, but Tweets are in public knowledge and traceable. A great way to have a record of the perpetrators in this mindless violence. The restriction will mean this can’t be used to trace the thugs.
So not only will the news reporting that tweets can provide will no longer exist during this period, but the fact that any other alternative method for communication may not be so easily traced.
The only difference that putting a block on social media will have is those who are using it for reporting on the aspects of this will not have the same information available.
If they are to block the use of Twitter an BBM, then they will use Facebook and Bebo. If the Government ban these then they will just move to alternative sites or go back to the old fashioned text message to arrange to meet, or even take the example of the illegal raves in the 90’s using word of mouth meeting in obscure locations or with a recorded message to listen to. All these were done without the use of Twitter and BBM, it would be easy to return.
So the only logical way to do it would be cut all mobile communications and internet communications… or just have a way to monitor twitter or enable an easier method to report tweets to police.
We are not in a police state though, I for one love the aspect of that in the UK. How about we keep a certain amount of freedom. I didn’t see the UK Government looking at Governments in Libya, Egypt, Syria, etc to ban all social media when the Arab Spring was starting, in fact it embraced it. I am not comparing the aspect of the use of twitter, but I am respecting the feature that Twitter can transmit messages across the world. I really hope they see sense.