A 20-year-old Essex man has been arrested and charged after allegedly using a BlackBerry smartphone to try to organise a water fight.
On Monday, Essex Police said the man had been charged with "encouraging or assisting in the commission of an indictable only offence under the Serious Crime Act 2007". The arrest came as part of a crackdown on those using social media to incite violence, in the wake of last week's riots.
According to a statement by the force, "police will continue to monitor social networking sites for unlawful activity". The arrest came after prime minister David Cameron said those "using social media for violence" had to be stopped.
Facebook, Twitter and RIM — whose BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service was allegedly used by riot organisers — are meeting with the home secretary this week to discuss the viability of blocking access to social media during civil disturbances.
"If people use social networking sites inappropriately to stimulate rumours we will do our best to track the individuals down and if they have committed offences under criminal law we will deal with them," temporary assistant chief constable Maurice Mason said on Monday.
The Colchester man has been conditionally bailed and will appear at Colchester Magistrates' Court on 1 September. According to a Twitter post from the police force regarding the alleged water fight, "police believe there may be more involved in light of recent disorder".
ZDNet UK has asked Essex Police whether it was monitoring messages itself or being passed potentially troublesome messages by RIM, but a spokeswoman for the force said it would not divulge such information.
Essex is not the only place where one can be arrested for organising a water fight. Several such arrests were made in Iran at the end of July, according to reports, after people used Facebook to invite others to a massive water fight, where young people brandished balloons, plastic bottles and water pistols.
Tehran's police chief was quoted as saying those arrested would be punished for disrupting "social order".