Censoring Social Media?
After the UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron stated that the government would seek ways to control social media services during strife, the Home Office set up a meeting with key business representatives. This BBC story relates the outcome and is chock full of industry quotes
A Twitter spokeswoman said after the meeting that it was “always interested in exploring how we can make Twitter even more helpful and relevant during times of critical need”.
She added: “We’ve heard from many that Twitter is an effective way to distribute crucial updates and dispel rumours in times of crisis or emergency.”
A Facebook spokesperson said: “We welcome the fact that this was a dialogue about working together to keep people safe rather than about imposing new restrictions on internet services.”
The company said it had highlighted the role Facebook played during the riots, such as people staying in contact and organising the clean-up.
“There is no place for illegal activity on Facebook and we take firm action against those who breach our rules.”
A spokesman for Blackberry maker Research In Motion said the meeting was “positive and productive”.
The company said: “We were pleased to consult on the use of social media to engage and communicate during times of emergency. RIM continues to maintain an open and positive dialogue with the UK authorities and continues to operate within the context of UK regulations
And of course there are similar concerns in the U.S.
This past week, San Francisco’s transit system shut down cell service to prevent protests, and this week, government officials in the UK are meeting with major social media platforms to discuss how to curtail violence stemming and organizing on social media. Should government step in and censor social media? If so, when? Do social media platforms have a responsibility to prevent violence?
Are there times when social media should be censored?