LibLink: Mark Pack – Is it simply a question of politicians and pundits always trying to ban technologies they don’t use?

Over on the MHP blog, Mark Pack makes a good point about the calls from some politicians to ban or restrict the use of social networking in response to the riots.

Here’s some of what Mark has to say:

Yet from some commentators and MPs there were immediate demands to suspend, curtail or otherwise regulate social networks. This was echoed today by David Cameron who promised that the government will look into this very question.

However, the number of communication technologies in the firing line is far short of the number involved in the events. Rolling TV coverage gave the events wall-to-wall coverage. National newspapers took the story to mass audiences well beyond the reach of a news channel. Numerous rioters were spotted talking into their mobile phones.

Calls in response the riots to change the rules over newspapers, TV or voice phone calls have not been made. It is only the new technologies that face those demands.

Or is it simply a question of politicians and pundits always trying to ban technologies they don’t use?

You can see the piece in full here.

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6 Comments

  • Yes, it’s a classic moral panic about what people do in there own homes like the knee jerk Video Nasties fears generated by the press in the 80s. There’s even echoes of it the rhetoric of the anti-hip hop and gamer brigade. Most of the rioters didn’t even need to use phones because they were neighbours. The technology is simply the medium they used to talk to each other. We’ve just forgotten what riots are like and how quickly they spread, The 81 riots also generated opportunistic and copycat riots without the need for social networking.

  • Stuart Mitchell 13th Aug '11 - 1:52pm

    Julian Huppert: Adams was of course right. The “Twitter fetish” rampant in the mainstream media these days is immensely irritating.

    But looking at the hysterical over-reaction amongst Liberals to even the slightest suggestion of briefly curtailing some aspects of social network use during a genuine emergency situation, it is possible to turn Adams’ argument completely on its head, which is exactly what Tory MP Louise Mensch has done :-

    “Social media isn’t any more important than a train station, a road or a bus service. We don’t worry about police temporarily closing those… Common sense. If riot info and fear is spreading by Facebook and Twitter, shut them off for an hour or two, then restore. World won’t implode.”

    Oh, and she made those comments on Twitter.

  • Keith Browning 13th Aug '11 - 3:07pm

    I thought the announcement by police, government, whoever…. that the police from 26 police forces were heading to London might have been a clue to the troublemakers in those 26 areas that the coast was clear.

    The Manchester and West Midlands police turning round and heading back up the M1 was something from a Keystone Cops silent movie.

    We seem to be governed by the Set Five kids at school, who weren’t allowed near sharp objects. Perhaps that is what Eton is really like!

  • Colonel Blimp 13th Aug '11 - 5:55pm

    It is quite clear that the problem is these new fangled moving picture thingies.

    I had the misfortune to view a number of these so called Ealing comedies. No wonder one of the disturbances happened there this week! In one, the audience were invited to have sympathy with a number of criminals looting alcohol from a ship called that had simply had the misfortune to run aground nearby. Several others feature a school of young girls (I could hardly call them ladies) simply running amok showing no regard or respect to their elders and engaging in the most disgraceful and wanton behaviour. No wonder when many of the school staff themselves showed the most questionable morals! And in yet another, an entire district of London rebels against the rule of British law to the point of needing to be fenced off from the rest of the city. And in each case the audience is invited to identify with these depraved miscreants! With so called entertainment like this how can we be surprised at the actions of the population?

    These sort of films are corrupting the morals of our nation and we need to ban them forthwith if we are to restore order and to avoid a repeat of the disgraceful conduct we have seen in London this week!

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