Hands off our … umm, social networks.

When the proverbial faeces hits the fan, it’s generally a good idea to spend some time figuring out what we might want to do differently in future. Coming together to clean it up is a good start, and says more about the ‘moral character’ of this country than any denunciation of it by our sort-of-elected leaders. In the longer term, however, we’re apt to want to find out who’s flinging it, and stop them, rather than simply mobilising time and again with brooms and camaraderie.

In theory, that could be the rationale behind the floated proposal to give police the power to ‘switch off’ social networks such as Twitter. Halt the ne’er-do-wells in their tracks! Sure, it might inconvenience those of us who use social networks for nothing more revolutionary than sharing ridiculous puns or discussing the cricket, but if it prevents the moral decay of society, it’s got to be a price worth paying.

There’s only one problem. The moral decay of society starts at the top and gradually infects the lower echelons, not the other way around. Those who steer the boat bear the greatest responsibility when it sails into choppy waters, not the least. And given the many and varied ways in which their navigation seems to be awry at present, it’s hardly surprising that some of the below-decks staff are becoming enraged.

Trickle-down economics is a nice theory when it justifies massive profiteering on the part of corporations on the basis that we’ll all feel the warmth some day (as long as we’re really, really patient). It’s not quite so comforting when the kind of opportunistic self-gratification that we’ve seen paraded across the front pages of our press over the past year or two suddenly shows up in Hackney in search of a new tracksuit.

So, rather than giving police the power to switch off Twitter (and thereby hand over even more of our hard-earned liberties to those who promise to keep us safe), let’s become more and more assiduous about holding to account those who lay claim to leadership positions in this country.

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