LONDON — British officials and representatives of Twitter, Facebook and BlackBerry met Thursday to discuss voluntary ways to limit or restrict the use of social media to combat crime and periods of civil unrest, while trying to dodge charges of hypocrisy and censorship that trailed Prime Minister David Cameron’s call to restrict use of the networks after this month’s riots.
The government’s home minister, Theresa May, according to one account of the meeting, said that the aim was not to “discuss restricting Internet services,” but to instead “crack down on the networks being used for criminal behavior.” A spokeswoman for Ms. May said the government “would not be seeking any additional powers.”
But the discussion, according to those present, was still aimed at reeling in social media and strengthening the hand of law enforcement in gathering information from those networks. In the wake of revolutions that have seen widespread calls for freedom and democracy, free-speech advocates have said, the British government is considering similar policies to those it has criticized in totalitarian and one-party states.
Read more: In Britain, a meeting on limiting social media