The City of Non-Brotherly Tweets, Status Updates, and Text Messages

Philadelphia City Councilmen Jim Kenney and Frank DiCicco urged Mayor Michael A. Nutter and Council President Anna C. Verna to explore lawsuits against social-media sites like Facebook and Twitter in the wake of recent incidents involving teen-age mobs, violence, and vandalism, saying text messages and social media are used to organize these gatherings, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

Kenney told the Inquirer:

The citizens of this city have the right to shop, work, use public transportation, and not be pummeled to the ground. This is urban terrorism. If they’re using those sites to conduct this thuggery, then I want to find out if it’s true, and I want to get the appropriate legal action to get them to warn us.

However, while Kenney and DiCicco may have some valid points in theory, in practice, they just don’t translate. Facebook has more than 400 million users, and Twitter has more than 75 million, making monitoring of exchanges over the two networks virtually impossible.

As Caroline McCarthy of CNET put it:

Suing Facebook in this case is like suing the phone company if telephone calls were used to plot a bank robbery. It’s not the responsibility of a social network with 400 million members around the world to monitor conversations between mischievous high-schoolers.