The government is considering whether social media services should be shut off at times of disorder, the British prime minister, David Cameron, has told parliament.
Cameron's comments were made in a speech to the House of Commons on Thursday. Parliament has been recalled from its summer recess to respond to the violent disorder that has affected London, Manchester, Birmingham and other UK cities.
"Mr Speaker, everyone watching these horrific actions will be stuck by how they were organised via social media," Cameron said. "Free flow of information can be used for good. But it can also be used for ill."
"When people are using social media for violence we need to stop them," he added in a statement.
To that end, the government is working with the police, the intelligence services and industry to look at whether it would be right to cut people off from social media when they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality, he said.
BlackBerry maker Research In Motion has already promised to help police examine what role BlackBerry Messenger played in riots in North London earlier in the week.
Police forces are already targeting people who plotted disorder on social media. "If you have been using social networking sites to incite disorder, expect us to come knocking on your door very soon," Greater Manchester Police tweeted on Wednesday.