RIM faces calls to ban Messenger as social media comes under scrutiny

Steve Dinneen
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BLACKBERRY-maker RIM yesterday faced calls to disable its Messenger service as the role of technology and social media in the riots continued to come under scrutiny.

Tottenham MP David Lammy said BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) is “one of reasons why unsophisticated criminals are outfoxing an otherwise sophisticated police force”.

The service, which is popular with teenagers, can be used by groups but is not as easy to track as networks such as Twitter or Facebook.

RIM said it is “co-operating fully with the Home Office and police forces” but did not block access.

The company also found itself victim of hackers, furious that it was working with police. Its website was vandalised with a message: “If you assist the police… you will regret it. We have access to your database, which includes your employees information [and] will pass it onto rioters.”

Meanwhile, a 22-year-old was arrested yesterday for inciting public disorder after allegedly setting up a Facebook page encouraging people to riot in Warrington, with police saying they will take action against anyone found using social networks to incite violence.

Police forces also began to use social media to fight back against rioters, uploading images of suspected troublemakers onto a Flickr photo gallery and appealing for information through Twitter.

Communities also used Twitter to set up riot clean-up groups, using the hashtag #riotcleanup.