UK gov’t will not ban social networks during civil unrest

London riots

The UK government will not ban suspected criminals from using social networks during times of emergency and civil unrest, reports the Guardian. The idea was first proposed by British Prime Minister David Cameron in the aftermath of the riots that wreaked havoc on London and other cities in the UK earlier this month. Twitter, Facebook and BlackBerry Messenger were reportedly used by rioters to help orchestrate their rampages.

The decision not to ban citizens suspected of planning riots, looting and other criminal activity follows a meeting between UK Home Secretary, Theresa May, and representatives from Twitter, Facebook and Research In Motion, the company that makes BlackBerry.

“The discussions looked at how law enforcement and the networks can build on the existing relationships and co-operation to prevent the networks being used for criminal behaviour. The government did not seek any additional powers to close down social media networks,” the Home Office said in a statement.

Mr. Cameron’s proposal was instantly met with opposition from free speech advocates, and brought ridicule from Iran, a country long criticized by leaders in the West for its authoritarian tactics and crackdowns one civil liberties.

Despite this, those in charge of maintaining peace and order say that social networks have a responsibility when their services are used to carry out criminal activity.

“I can understand why some people would feel uneasy,” said Gordon Scobbie, a senior British police official who attended the meeting, in an interview with The New York Times. “But if they’re allowing criminal activity — and this was high-end criminality, people lost their lives in these riots — I struggle to see how that can just go on.”

He added: “We have a duty to protect people, and that’s always balanced with human rights, online or offline. It’s no different now.”

Twitter, Facebook and BlackBerry all released statements, saying that they are operating within UK law.

Social Media

LinkedIn finally gets around to launching its own version of Stories

Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter — among others — have all launched their own versions of Snapchat Stories, so it was only a matter of time before professional social networking platform LinkedIn followed suit.
Social Media

Time alerts put the brakes on Facebook consumption, are rolling out now

Just how much time do you spend scrolling through the Facebook feed? Facebook will now tell you. The new features also include daily alerts that tell users when they've spent too much time on the social network.
Photography

Photography news: Best spot for fall photos, new firmware from Fuji and Nikon

Where's the best spot to take fall photos? Michigan, according to social media and a Nikon contest. The results and more in this week's photography news, including significant firmware updates for the Fujifilm X-T3, X-H1, and GFX 50S.
Social Media

Build a wish list and shop videos with Instagram’s latest shopping update

Eyeing a product on Instagram? Now there are more ways to shop from the social network. Instagram just rolled out options to save products in a collection as users can also now shop from videos.
Social Media

Vine fans, your favorite video-looping app is coming back as Byte

Vine fans were left disappointed in 2017 when its owner, Twitter, pulled the plug on the video-looping app. But now one of its co-founders has promised that a new version of the app, called Byte, is coming soon.
News

Social media use increases depression and anxiety, experiment shows

A study has shown for the first time a causal link between social media use and lower rates of well-being. Students who limited their social media usage to 30 minutes a day showed significant decreases in anxiety and fear of missing out.
Product Review

It's not a spy, but you still won't want to friend Facebook's Portal+

Facebook has jumped into the smart home game with the Portal+, a video-calling device featuring an Amazon Alexa speaker and a screen. While it has lots of cool calling features, we’re weary of Facebook taking up counter space in our home.
Social Media

Twitter boss hints that an edit button for tweets may finally be on its way

Twitter has been talking for years about launching an edit button for tweets, but it still hasn't landed. This week, company boss Jack Dorsey addressed the matter again, describing a quick-edit button as "achievable."
Social Media

‘Superwoman’ YouTuber Lilly Singh taking a break for her mental health

Claiming to be "mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted," popular YouTuber Lilly Singh has told her millions of fans she's taking a break from making videos in order to recuperate.
Social Media

Facebook is rolling out a Messenger ‘unsend’ feature, and here’s how to use it

Facebook is starting to roll out a "remove message" feature for its Messenger app. It lets you delete a message in a thread within 10 minutes of sending it, and replaces it with a note telling recipients that it's been removed.
Social Media

Going incognito: Here's how to appear offline on Facebook

How do you make sure your friends and family can't see if you're on Facebook, even if you are? Here, we'll show you how to turn off your active status on three different platforms, so you can browse Facebook without anyone knowing.
Social Media

Addicted to Instagram? Its new ‘activity dashboard’ is here to help

Ever get that nagging feeling you're spending too much time on Instagram? Well, a new "activity dashboard" has a bunch of features designed to help you better control how you use the addictive photo-sharing app.
Social Media

Why an American named John Lewis gets lots of Twitter hassle from Brits

Spare a thought for Twitter user John Lewis. When he signed up as @johnlewis soon after the app launched in 2006, little did he know what he was letting himself in for. Clue: There's a U.K. department store called John Lewis.
Social Media

Instagram purges fake followers, likes, and comments generated from other apps

Instagram looking a little more authentic? You can thank machine learning. A new tool is helping Instagram spot followers, likes and comments generated from third-party apps -- and this is just the start.