IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

UK sets Aug. 25 to meet with social networks about riot role

Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan, left, and Jordan Blackshaw both pleaded guilty to using Facebook in attempts to fuel riots in Cheshire. England. August 2011
Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan, left, and Jordan Blackshaw both pleaded guilty to using Facebook in attempts to fuel riots in Cheshire. England. August 2011Cheshire Police

The British government has set Aug. 25 as the date it will meet with representatives from social networks Facebook and Twitter, as well as Research In Motion, which makes the BlackBerry, to talk about their use and role in the worst riots in Britain for decades, with more than 1,200 people arrested.

Prime Minister David Cameron has blamed the riots on street gang members and opportunistic looters — and to some degree on the social networks that enabled flash mobs and looting to be coordinated. Cameron has vowed to explore curbs on the use of social media tools if they were used to plot "violence, disorder and criminality."

This week, two men, ages 20 and 22, were sentenced to four years in prison for trying to organize riots by using Facebook, even though in one case, no one showed up for the event except for police officers who arrested the suspect. In the second case, the convicted man posted a link to a page called "The Warrington Riots" on Facebook, but said he was not looking to incite any additional activity, according to The Guardian.

Facebook representatives will attend the meeting with officials from the Home Office, which includes Britain's office for security and counter-terrorism, and crime and policing group.

In a statement shared in a BBC report, Facebook said it looks "forward to meeting with the home secretary to explain the measures we have been taking to ensure that Facebook is a safe and positive platform for people in the UK at this challenging time.”

Canadian-based RIM has "suggested it will also be there," the BBC said, and RIM said in a statement that "we welcome the opportunity for consultation together with other companies in the technology and telecommunications industry."

RIM's BlackBerry Messenger instant messaging program is thought to have been used by many rioters and looters to coordinate their plans.

So far, Twitter, the U.S.-based short messaging blog, has yet to make a public peep about whether it will attend the session.

— Via The Next Web

Related stories:

Check out Technolog, Gadgetbox, Digital Life and In-Game on Facebook, and on Twitter, follow Suzanne Choney.