The UK Is Considering Censoring Twitter, Social Media After Huge Riots

David Cameron

David Cameron appeared at the House of Commons today to give talk about the serious riots Britain has experienced over the past few days (which thankfully, appears to be over).

One intriguing part of Cameron’s speech (via the Telegraph):

Mr Speaker, everyone watching these horrific actions will be stuck by how they were organised via social media.

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.

So 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.

I have also asked the police if they need any other new powers.

Later during questions it became clear that the government was looking into ways to censor social media. Sources tell Sky News’ Sophy Ridge that the government is looking into “clamping down” on social media.

The idea has provoked some controversy on Twitter. American journalist Jeff Jarvis tweeted:

I hear an MP in essence asking for social media to be regulated. Danger, friends, danger. #ukriots

The action may seem drastic, but some efforts are already being made. Blackberry has agreed to cooperate with police after reports that rioters were using Blackberry Messenger to organise riots, and a number of arrests have been made for those attempting to incite violence on Facebook and Twitter.

The idea of “clamping down” on social media has some public support — a poll conducted by Opinium Research earlier this week found 38% of people support shutting social media down during civil unrest.