Top British official to meet social networks over riots

August 26th, 2011 - 12:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Facebook London, Aug 26 (IANS) British Home Secretary Theresa May will soon meet executives from social networks like Facebook, Twitter and BlackBerry to discuss the recent riots in the country.

May announced she will hold the meeting after officials suggested social network websites should be shut down during public disturbances to prevent spreading of trouble, Sky News reported.

Those present at the meeting will discuss whether users of such websites should be blocked when they are seen to be planning violence or criminality.

Services such as BlackBerry Messenger - which allows users to send free-of-charge real-time messages - was said to have enabled looters organise their movements during the recent riots.

The report, however, did not state when the meeting would take place.

A Home Office source, however, said there was “no suggestion” that any of the sites would be closed down.

A spokeswoman said: “The home secretary will meet the Association of Chief Police Officers, the police and representatives from the social media industry.”

“Among the issues to be discussed is whether and how we should be able to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality.”

“Social networking is not a cause of the recent disturbances but a means of enabling criminals to communicate.”

Facebook has said it has already prioritised its review of content on the site that is “egregious during sensitive times like the British riots”.

A Facebook spokesperson said: “We look forward to meeting the home secretary to explain the measures we have been taking to ensure that Facebook is a safe and positive platform for people in Britain at this challenging time.”

The company said some of its pages - Supporting The Met Police Against The London Rioters, for example - had received nearly one million “likes”.

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