Facebook, RIM To Meet With UK Government Over Proposed Social Media Ban

Facebook and BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM) are set to meet with Home Secretary Theresa May and other UK officials as the government investigates what roles the platforms played in organizing recent riots in London.

Twitter, a service used by rioters and victims alike, said in a statement that it would not be joining the talks. “We’d be happy to listen,” the statement said.

Facebook’s official statement read a little differently: “We look 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 in the UK at this challenging time.”

On Thursday, UK Prime Minister David Cameron alarmed free speech activists when he told Parliament that the government is examining whether it is possible to prevent suspected criminals from sending messages via social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

“We’re working with the police, the intelligence services and industry to look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality,” Cameron told the House of Commons.

The investigation, which has been outlined in pretty vague terms, has incited widespread criticism from the media and free speech activists alike.

U.S. journalist Jeff Jarvis asked on his blog: “If you take these steps, what separates you from the Saudi government demanding the ability to listen to and restrict its BBM networks? What separates you from Arab tyrannies cutting off social communication via Twitter or from China banning it?”

“Censorship is not the path to civility,” Jarvis added. “Only speech is.”

[via PC Magazine]

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