First World meets Social Media and attempts to curtail it much like their third world counterparts – too late the cat is so far out of the bag we can’t even catch a whiff of what things were like before social media communications to coordinate groups for good, or bad.
It is interesting that the whole world cheered during Arab Spring when Tunisia and Egypt threw out hated government and attempted to substitute their own government. The whole world watched with baited breath, and even the US State Department asked Twitter not to shut down for a planned maintenance cycle during the uprisings in spring of 2011. The governments of those countries tried everything to shut down the internet and halt communication and coordination between groups who were protesting both peacefully and non-peacefully seeking to right the injustices that they saw. The world cheered, opened up dial up lines, and did everything they could to help develop work around processes so that people could still communicate and coordinate movement between Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and a ton of other companies with the blessing of major first world governments.
In an ironic twist, Dave Cameron the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom attempted to tell RIMM and others that it was their obligation to help the Government find out what was happening on those systems and shut down the coordination of looters, rioters, and people torching a good chunk of downtown.
With the good of Arab Spring comes the bad of the UK Summer. What can be used to facilitate the overthrow of a government can also be used to coordinate criminal actions as has been amply demonstrated by the use of social media, Twitter, Facebook, and the messaging systems on cell phones.
This cat is seriously out of the bag.
From the BBC:
He said the government, using input from the police, intelligence services and industry, was looking at whether there should, or could, be limits on social media if it was being used to spread disorder.
Under social media, Mr Cameron includes Facebook, Twitter and specific technologies such as text messaging. The semi-private BBM messaging system on the Blackberry is said to have been widely used during the riots.
Home Secretary Theresa May is believed to be meeting representatives from Facebook, Twitter and RIM (maker of the Blackberry) to talk about their obligations during times of unrest.
Are there corporate obligations in a time of civil unrest? If the UK was a corrupt government that the world would not mind seeing fall would anyone care or would people be opening up dial up lines so that people could still communicate and coordinate? Would we be working on working solutions much like a good proportion of the world was to support Arab Spring? Is there an obligation for the companies that provide social media services to shut down actions that government might not like or condone? Keeping it interesting, but this is not just a question for the UK, this is a question for all governments worldwide, social media is dangerous to the established order when enough people are disaffected with what is happening in a country, and can seriously upset the current “order” of power and control. At what point does a governments survival depend on shutting down social media, tracking private SMS messages, and while the UK was not a social protest, at what point do we draw the line and say “You Facebook need to help us catch these criminals”.
This was previously posted on Techwag 2.0 in August of 2011
- Social Media and the Arab Spring (takefiveblog.org)
- Tech Report: Arab Spring A Hot Topic At Middle East Technology Conference (sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com)
- The Arab Spring- Caused by Social Media? (hannahmarketing.wordpress.com)
Arab Spring, Egypt, Facebook, Government, LinkedIn, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Tunisia, Twitter