Much has been made about the role of social media in the riots that have devastated London and surrounding cities for the last few days. Two of the most talked about companies in the riots, Twitter and BlackBerry are now being called upon by Britain to try and calm things down.
British Home Secretary Theresa May plans to meet with the two companies to address “their responsibilities in not fueling rioting and other criminal behavior.”
It’s a difficult position for the companies, especially RIM, because they were hacked shortly after agreeing to comply with police. Now the police want to take it a step further, viewing suspected rioters private messages and shutting down Twitter Direct Messages and BlackBerry BBMs communications entirely.
The police also find themselves in a precarious position. At this point, they have to do something to save face, and BBM and Twitter make good scapegoats. However, it’s a stretch to think that either company deserves the full brunt of the blame, as private communication can be sent through emails, text messages and shadowy alley corners. The means of communication does nothing to explain the underlying violent rage that erupted from the streets of London.