In the fallout of the August Riots across the UK, two men from the the North West of England were sentenced to 4yrs in jail for trying to incite riots in towns by postings on Facebook – even though their attempts didn’t result in any rioting. Civil liberties groups are up in arms over the length of the sentences as these are the toughest handed out by the judges so far for all of the court cases that have been heard; but didn’t cause any actual physical damage.
The first, Jordan Blackshaw setup a Facebook Event called “Smash Down in Northwich Town”; but nobody except the UK police who were monitoring Facebook attended the event.
The second man, Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan setup a Facebook Page called “Warrington Riots” and suggested it to 400 of his contacts to “like” or comment on. This apparently caused panic across the town of Warrington, which the judge took as action to threaten public safety, even though Sutcliffe-Keenan deleted the page the next morning.
Apart from the total and utter ignorant stupidity of doing something like that… using an account that’s linked straight back to you (if you’ve used your real name), your email address (if its your email account), your phone number (if you’ve added it on your info page), pictures of you and is connected to hundreds of people who know you or know of you – its really not the smartest idea in the world is it ? I somehow doubt that the Greater Manchester Police thought that were dealing with criminal masterminds here. A majority of the originating trouble across London was instigated using BlackBerry Messenger (BBM); which coincidentally just happened to be a “secured” closed network that the UK Police did not have surveillance access to.
Most people do some silly things on social networking sites, but trying to incite civil unrest from your own account is right up there with trying to hire a hitman to kill your ex over Facebook… or the idiot who replied to actually take up the offer.
Its almost certain that the two guys will get their jail sentences reduced on appeal. But with the UK court system taking the hard (and some say justified) stance that the wilful intent to stir up mass organised violence, rioting and public uprising… it’s still likely that they will get jail time to some degree.
The maximum sentence for this crime in the UK is 10yrs.