2/3 Support Social Media Blackout During Riots
The riots in London this summer were aided by rioters coordinating efforts via the Blackberry messenger service. This resulted in some MPs calling for a social media blackout during times of civil unrest.
A new study has shown that the public support such a notion. A poll of 973 adults carried out for the online security firm Unisys found 70% of adults supported the shutdown of Twitter, Facebook and BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), while only 27% disagreed.
A further 75% of respondents agreed that the government have free access to all data transmitted via social networks in their bid to combat organised crime.
Support for these actions correlated largely with usage of social media. Strongest support for the draconian measures was amongst the over-65's, with the heaviest users of social media (18-24 year olds) showing most displeasure at the proposals.
Several people were convicted of attempting to start disturbances using Facebook during the outbreak of rioting across England in August. The court of appeal recently rejected a bid to lower the sentences of two people sent to prison for four years for attempting to orchestrate riots on the social media site, despite them not leading to any disturbances.
Freedom of expression campaigners said they were worried that Britons were sanctioning draconian measures as ever more services shift online.
"It's very worrying that people would believe shutting down social networks would be in any way desirable," said Padraig Reidy, news editor of Index on Censorship. "The vast majority of social network use during the unrest was people sreading information and helping each other get home safely. These kinds of actions would weaken the UK's position against authoritarian regimes who censor internet access. As we live more of our lives online, people should be conscious of the amount of power they're potentially handing over to government."