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In British Riots, Social Media and Face Masks Are the Focus

Social media is often praised for the power it gives citizens. However, this power is not always used in a positive way. In Britain, citizens began to use social media sources like Facebook and BBM (Blackberry Messenger) to organize violent riots, and the British government’s response was severe. Prime Minister David Cameron granted the police permission to remove protestors’ face masks (used to conceal identity), and considered limiting the availability of social networking sites. Needless to say, these decisions have been criticized as violations of basic rights. The government was caught in a precarious situation. If it suppresses social media, the government appears hypocritical for praising the use of social media during the Arab revolutions; and if it does not place limitations on the use of social media, violence will continue.

Goodman, J. David. “In British Riots, Social Media and Face Masks Are the Focus.” The New York Times. 11 August 2011. Web. 29 June 2012. <>.


UK riots ‘made worse’ by rolling news, BBM, Twitter and Facebook

Josh Halliday argues that the media is to blame for the worsening of the 2011 London riots. Subsequently, the British government is forced to make a difficult decision. For the duration of the Arab Spring, the British government had praised the effectiveness of social media as a way for protestors to organize and centralize. Nevertheless, now that British civilians are employing the same tactics, the government is starting to have second thoughts. The constant images of riots and violence on the news and the Internet have only encouraged other British citizens to join the fray and unite with their fellow comrades, which prolongs the violence. Halliday concludes that censoring social media would cause more harm than good, pointing out that “viral silence may have as many dangers as viral noise.”

Halliday, Josh. “UK riots ‘made worse’ by rolling news, BBM, Twitter and Facebook.” The Guardian. 28 March 2012. Web. 12 July 2012. <>.


Russian Activists Turn To Social Media

For Russian citizens, social media has been the key to voicing their opinions in a repressive environment where they would normally be arrested for speaking out. Most Russians were tired of Vladimir Putin’s reign as Prime Minister. Therefore, when Parliament decided to allow Putin to run for a third term, citizens could not sit and watch from the sidelines. They posted anti-Putin videos online, organized protests through Facebook and Twitter and utilized the site Yandex to raise money for the cause. This article describes the actions taken by both sides – the government and the people – in order to gain the upper hand in the realm of social media.

Northam, Jackie. “Russian Activists Turn To Social Media.” NPR. 13 January 2012. Web. 27 July 2012. <>.

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