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Breaking News English .com, UK Debates Social Media Closure in Crises (26th August, 2011)

Britain's government has been debating whether to shut down social media sites during times of public disorder. Prime Minister David Cameron has said police may need extra powers to curb them, even though he praised their use in the protests that led to the fall of Hosni Mubarak's government in Egypt earlier this year. Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Blackberry Messenger were used extensively by rioters across England in the country's recent social unrest. They enabled looters and gangs to organise themselves during the riots and carry out attacks on police and property. Two men were jailed for four years for setting up a Facebook event entitled "Smash Down Northwich Town". Neither of the men took part in any rioting.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg dispelled rumours that his government would act against social media, saying: “We are not going to become like Iran or China [and] suddenly start cutting people off.” He added: “The government did not seek any additional powers to close down social media networks." Britain's Guardian newspaper reported that social media played a more positive role in the riots in organising street clean-ups and criticising the rioters. A Facebook official said their site was useful to the police as a valuable intelligence tool in gaining evidence to convict criminals. A Twitter spokeswoman said: "Twitter is an effective way to distribute updates and dispel rumours in times of crisis or emergency."

Classroom handouts, online activities and a listening for this article are at

http://www.breakingnewsenglish.com/1108/110826-social_media.html



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Britain's government has been debating whether to shut down social media sites during times of public disorder. Prime Minister David Cameron has said police may need extra powers to curb them, even though he praised their use in the protests that led to the fall of Hosni Mubarak's government in Egypt earlier this year. Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Blackberry Messenger were used extensively by rioters across England in the country's recent social unrest. They enabled looters and gangs to organise themselves during the riots and carry out attacks on police and property. Two men were jailed for four years for setting up a Facebook event entitled "Smash Down Northwich Town". Neither of the men took part in any rioting.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg dispelled rumours that his government would act against social media, saying: “We are not going to become like Iran or China [and] suddenly start cutting people off.” He added: “The government did not seek any additional powers to close down social media networks." Britain's Guardian newspaper reported that social media played a more positive role in the riots in organising street clean-ups and criticising the rioters. A Facebook official said their site was useful to the police as a valuable intelligence tool in gaining evidence to convict criminals. A Twitter spokeswoman said: "Twitter is an effective way to distribute updates and dispel rumours in times of crisis or emergency."

Classroom handouts, online activities and a listening for this article are at

http://www.breakingnewsenglish.com/1108/110826-social_media.html


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