(CNN) — British Prime Minister David Cameron thinks he’s found some culprits to blame in the recent riots that have rocked London and other cities — Facebook and Twitter.
Saying the “free flow of information” can sometimes be a problem, Cameron’s government has summoned those two social-networking sites, as well as Research In Motion, makers of the BlackBerry, for a meeting to discuss their roles during the violent outbreaks.
Everyone watching these horrific actions will be struck by how they were organized via social media,Cameron said Thursday during an address to Parliament.Free flow of information can be used for good. But it can also be used for ill. And when people are using social media for violence, we need to stop them.
Cameron said that government officials are working with authoritiesto 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.
. . . Cameron, a Conservative, seems to have support for a potential crackdown, even from members of the opposition Labor Party.
Free speech is central to our democracy, but so is public safety and security,said Ivan Lewis, the shadow secretary of culture in the House of Commons, according to London’s Guardian newspaper.We support the government’s decision to undertake a review of whether measures are necessary to prevent the abuse of social media by those who organize and participate in criminal activities.
— Doug Gross, CNN (2011-08-11): In wake of riots, British PM proposes social media ban
I’m sure it’s true that the
free flow of information sometimes can be a
problem for the project of social control that Mr. David Cameron and his organization represent.
But here’s the thing. If the
free flow of information is a problem for your project or organization, the problem you have is a problem is with your project or organization — not a problem with the free flow of information.
public safety and security is so bloody important, well, then the Metropolitan Police and the British government have obviously proven incapable of providing it. And now they have nothing to suggest but (1) scapegoating service providers and the basic facts of sociality for their manifest failure; and (2) doubling down on exactly the sort of violence, institutional opacity, and coercive control that sparked the protest and the riots to begin with. I suggest that, after all this, we need to look at whether it would be right to shut Mr. Cameron’s organization down.