On Monday night, as London became a battleground, there was a subtle change in my street. The house opposite mine is occupied by a Caribbean family, with teenage and twenty-something children. On summer evenings they sit with friends on the steps and talk and play music, sometimes argue, sometimes just watch the world go by. Last Monday they were on their smart phones and the conversation that drifted across the street was about what was happening on Twitter.
It was striking that a family I’ve known for eight years—I’ve watched the kids grow up, the cops turning up regularly, the parents flipping out—were for the first time in ages talking about something outside their usual turf.
In today’s PMQs David Cameron announced he would consider “whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality.” How one goes about “knowing” will be contentious. But the broad idea of banning certain “undesirables” from social media is surely the wrong one. What Cameron should be doing is encouraging it.