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Posts Tagged ‘London riots’

Putting a stop to social media

With the aftermath of this week’s riots still fresh in our minds communities are searching for answers. The rapid and nationwide spread of these riots is what has prompted greatest interest as politicians search for answers as to the how and why.

In a statement to the House of Commons yesterday, Cameron said the Government was “working with police, intelligence services and industry to look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via social networks if they know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality”.

Now don’t get me wrong, I understand that perhaps the range and speed at which these incidents occurred could be blamed on the ease of communication but is prohibiting the use of social media sites during times of unrest really the answer?

Social media has a huge impact on the way we communicate. News is travelling faster. Maybe this isn’t a question of putting a stop to it but merely a need to adapt.

Should we not instead be looking at the positive use of social media during these riots? There was a huge outcry against this mob culture on my Twitter and Facebook feeds. It gave people a means to warn of areas under attack as well as pass of messages of support. Not only that, these open networks allow people to communicate in order to rise up against wrongdoing. We must not forget that the clean up volunteers and the sharing of pictures of wanted looters and rioters have gained a rapid and wide reach with the help of social media, speeding up the identification and arrest process.

For David Cameron to allow such a small minority of people to ruin a useful and, for many, essential tool of communication would be a huge dent to our human rights. After all where would it stop? Would social media be switched off during genuine political protests to stop the spread? Unfortunately when it comes to social media you have to take the rough with the smooth.

For many people who use social media to communicate daily it seems like David Cameron’s comments are simply a knee-jerk reaction to the somewhat unexplained events of the last few days. In the days to come I am sure that social media will play a huge part in finding out who these people are and may even provide the evidence needed to convict them.

Photo credit: hibbard

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