Home Office calls meeting for social networks

Following on from the recent riots the Government is considering putting measure in place which limit the use of social networking sites during times of trouble in the UK. It comes following calls for tighter policing of networks which were used by some rioters to incite others to join them.

The Home Secretary Theresa May has invited the major networks to attend a meeting at the Home Office to discuss the merits of limiting access in the future if deemed necessary.

Only Facebook has confirmed their attendance so far and were said to be keen to discuss the issues with the Home Secretary. It also wishes to bring to her attention the measures it has already taken to ensure the network continues to be a safe environment for users.

Social media platforms were heavily criticised over the riots due to the high number of people using them to communicate with fellow rioters and encourage the violence to continue.

However Facebook have been keen to point out the fact that many of the posts which were placed by those involved in the riots were actually reported by other users and much of this resulted in early warnings to police. In addition to this, much of the resulting support for clean ups was coordinated through social networks.

The Government has been quick to point the finger at social media as the key method of communication between rioters and suggest that restricting access would have stemmed the violence and should be considered as an option in the future.

However, for many of us this smacks of censorship and the idea of a communication lock down seems to be more at home in the pre 21st century world. And in reality, if people are determined enough they will certainly find a way around any such blockade.

It’s understandable that such a knee jerk reaction would be seen with the public calling for answers and looking for someone or something to blame. However even the police have spoken out saying that in fact they were able to monitor the social networks and this led to many arrests as well as being able to communicate important updates to the public which kept many people safe and away from the trouble.

Whatever the outcome there are going to be arguments from both sides and the discussion is making the rounds wherever you turn. But I for one don’t want to live in a world where the government can restrict media which allows free speech and sharing of opinions to only messages it deems appropriate.

Google buys Motorola Mobility

This week saw Google make its biggest acquisition ever to the tune of $12.5bn (£7.6bn) when it purchased Motorola Mobility, the company’s smartphone business.

This is a massive for deal for Google and push Android to where Google wants it to be. It’s clearly been trying to position itself as serious competition for Apple and Microsoft with the Nortel deal and others with limited success. The acquisition of Motorola Mobility gives it three times as many patents as the Nortel purchase offered and gives Google a hardware option now which sits nicely alongside its operating system.

With Android being so open to personalisation, many users find this frustrating and a barrier to moving across devices with the same software offering. Open source was an attractive prospect at first, but this has led to a great deal of diversification across the market which has dwindled the level of loyalty shown by its customers. Google has recognised this and has made efforts to create a more standardised approach which has proved difficult given the number of devices it runs on. But now having its own device could mean the end of open source and herald a new chapter for Google where it produces its own software on its own devices.

In addition to mobile, Motorola is also the leading provider of set top boxes which brings in a whole new dimension for Google building its business in its customers homes through their TVs.

It makes sense that Google would chose Motorola for this acquisition as it was the first to partner with Google and build phones based around the Android operating system. Building that relationship from the beginning would make it a natural choice to foster closer links and put Google more firmly in competition with other smartphone operators.

Everyone is having their say but the Guardian gives a nice overview.

Google adds more sitelinks

Google has announced it has increased the number of sitelinks shown in its search results. This aims to allow users to more quickly navigate to the section of the site they are looking for by giving more options that fit the search criteria.

For some sites this can mean that almost half of the space is taken up with just their links and pushes other results even further down or even off the page.

The change has come under criticism from some companies who claim that this will reduce the traffic going through their homepage and miss potential advertising revenue. Of course it could be argued that forcing visitors to go through an irrelevant homepage doesn’t exactly offer a great user experience but then again does a user really want 15 different links to one site.

Check out Econsultancy’s blog which is collecting advice and opinions from its guest bloggers.