Two men have been sentenced to four years in jail for attempting to use Facebook to “organize and orchestrate” disorder.
Twenty-year-old Jordan Blackshaw and 22-year-old Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan (pictured) were sentenced at Chester Crown Court on Tuesday. The two were arrested last week following days of rioting in London and surrounding areas, beginning August 6.
According to the Guardian, Blackshaw created a Facebook event called Smash Down Northwich Town. Sutcliffe-Keenan also set up a page encouraging rioting in Warrington. Neither post appears to have resulted in an actual disturbance, however.
“The sentences passed down today recognize how technology can be abused to incite criminal activity, and send a strong message to potential troublemakers about the extent to which ordinary people value safety and order in their lives and their communities,” Assistant Chief Constable Phil Thompson warned. “Anyone who seeks to undermine that will face the full force of the law.”
Approximately 3,000 people have been arrested and 1,200 people have appeared in court for riot-related offenses thus far, says the Toronto Star. Sentences have been harsh: One Londoner was sentenced for six months for stealing a $5 case of water from a local supermarket, and a woman from Manchester who did not take part in the riots received a five-month sentence for wearing a pair of stolen shorts her roommate gave her.
On Monday, one man was arrested for planning a water gun fight on Facebook.
Last week, UK Prime Minister David Cameron alarmed free speech activists when he told Parliament that the government is examining whether it is possible to prevent suspected criminals from sending messages via social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
Home Secretary Theresa May and other UK officials are set to meet with representatives from Facebook and BlackBerry maker Research in Motion to discuss “whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality,” says Cameron. Twitter has not confirmed whether it will be joining the talks.
[via The Guardian]
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