Facebook, RIM confirm UK govt. meeting over riots; Twitter invite pending

Facebook, RIM confirm UK govt. meeting over riots; Twitter invite pending

Summary: Facebook is the first to confirm a meeting with the UK's Home Secretary about its involvement in the England riots earlier this month.

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The three major social networks used during the London and wider England riots earlier this month -- Facebook, Twitter and Research in Motion's BlackBerry Messenger service -- have been called to the UK Home Office to discuss its roles in the riots.

Facebook has confirmed its attendance, reports the BBC, to the meeting on 25th August at the Home Office in London.

Update: A Research in Motion spokesperson told ZDNet that it will also be attending the meeting on Thursday. The BlackBerry maker said it "welcomes the opportunity for consultation together with other companies in the technology and telecommunications industry".

Twitter's invitation is still pending. It is not clear whether Twitter will attend.

(Image via Getty/Daily Mail)

As it became apparent that the technologies were being used by rioters and looters to cause havoc on the streets of England, and widespread disruption across the capital, UK Home Secretary Theresa May said last week she would "speak to the industry" about the role it played.

Facebook said in a statement:

"We look forward to meeting with the home secretary to explain the measures we have been taking to ensure that Facebook is a safe and positive platform for people in the UK at this challenging time".

It is likely to be discussed at the meeting on Thursday the industry's response to rioting, widespread disorder and states of emergency.

Britain's prime minister, David Cameron sparked controversy last week, suggesting in a speech given in Parliament that government should be able to 'disconnect' social networks and phone networks to prevent civil disorder.

Research in Motion is under pressure to explain its actions during the England riots, after BlackBerry users took to the secure Messenger application to disseminate targets for rioting and looting.

It comes as two of Britain's intelligence services -- MI5, and electronics interception agency, GCHQ -- have been brought in by the UK government to 'crack' the BlackBerry encryption, in a bid to prevent further disorder.

Facebook has also suffered heavy fire from politicians, along with Twitter, which said that the "tweets must flow" -- resonating the same feeling during the Arab Spring uprising earlier this year.

Many Facebook users "self-policed" the site, by reporting content that incited violence or disorder.

Last week, two men were sentenced to four years in prison for inciting violence on Facebook. The sentences were called "disproportionate" by some, after the messages did not come to fruition.

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Topics: BlackBerry, Mobility, Security, Social Enterprise

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5 comments
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  • RE: Facebook confirms UK govt. meeting over riots; Twitter, RIM also asked

    I am very annoyed at the double standard being used by governments regarding the use of technology. Several months ago, these governments (U.K. and U.S.) were praising the Iranis, Egyptians, Tunisians among others, because they were using technology to foster democratic principles and have their voice heards and their rights upheld. However, when it comes to doing the same in established democracies, the government is taking measures to minimize the mechanisms that can foster democratic activity among its populace. People are opting to use these technological tools because the structural (i.e. governmental) system in place no longer respond to the citizen's needs because they have been monopolized by politics. Therefore, as citizens we are alienated from our democratic institutions and are trying to achieve change by alternate means. However, we are seeing a systematic undermining of these technological tools that can enable further democratic activvity. I see this in the meeting between Facebook et al and the UK Govt, I see this with the elimination of cell phone coverage at the BART stops in San Francisco, the efforts of several police departments that are now following feeds and profiles... Alas, we have to be weary of partnershipships between the democratic governments and the owners of our newfound technological weapons...
    erios78
    • Unfortunately, you are correct; 'democratic' governments are as ...

      @erios78: ... hypocritical and double-standard practising as ever.<br><br>Not to say that any other governments are better, but they do not come to the world with <b>such arrogant and outrageous lies as calling themselves "democracies", talking about "freedoms", et cetera.</b><br><br>If I was religious, I would always remember the prophesy that the "Antichrist" is expected to come in "white clothes" and pronounce himself as law of goodness. With all of never ending crimes of "Axis of Good" countries against other countries as well as their own citizens during last decades, this already happens, except for it is depersonalised. The "Antichrist" is not a person, it is the system that built to brainwash, lie and abuse people's trust who think they live in "democracies".<br><br>I am not religious, so I would just say that what happens is very typical for the mankind.
      DDERSSS
  • If you commit a crime, post pictures and brag about it

    ... I have no problem with law enforcement using the info as evidence against you.

    The poster is the dumbazz breaking the law and bragging about it. They get no pity from me and in fact, I'm happy they are no longer on the streets committing more crimes.
    wackoae
  • RE: Facebook confirms UK govt. meeting over riots; Twitter, RIM also asked

    This and deleting Jan Brewers post on Facebook, Facebook is getting into things they should not be in. Facebook is going to have people closing there accounts if they are not careful.
    imsimsj
  • RE: Facebook confirms UK govt. meeting over riots; Twitter, RIM also asked

    Well, if David Cameron wasn't such a Murdoch M0R0N, these riots would never have happened in the first place. My take on the riots is that the people lost faith in the integrity of their political leadership and police force and panicked.
    Seems to me that Cameron is a pot calling a kettle black.
    ITOdeed