BlackBerry’s BBM Called For Shutdown: London Rioter’s Best Weapon?

We are all by now well aware and engrossed in the shocking scenes of rioting all over London. Disturbing images of buildings on fire, mobs smashing up shops and young kids looting are dominating all news stations worldwide. My colleague Tim Ollason earlier asked the question if social media was the reason behind the rioting? Opinions have been divided but one thing that all agree on is that BlackBerry’s BBM instant messaging service has played a large role in mobs communicating with each other. As a result, many are calling for it to be temporarily shut down in London.

It seems people are citing BBM as the main tool of planning for the crowds of rioters, with swift messaging between the vandals. Of course you can not single out just BlackBerry, it is also services such as text messaging, Twitter, Facebook, email and even the PlayStation Network that has been suggested as means of plotting, Cnet UK reports. The reason BBM is so popular amongst the criminals is that it is untraceable and can quickly send messages to large groups.

The strong rumor remains that BlackBerry are being put under pressure to stop the BBM service in London, all the while this chaos is still going on. Research In Motion, the technology firm who create the BlackBerry products and run the BBM service has apparently said they are will to help police with their investigations by intercepting messages sent by hooligans. The have also said the news that they will shut down the BlackBerry Messenger service from between 7pm and 6am is just a rumor.

If things get even worse and London experiences a 4th night of rioting, protests and looting then RIM may have no option but to disable the service to prevent the organized crime. We have seen mobile phone and electronic shops broken into and robbed with thieves actually helping themselves to free BlackBerry smartphones and other devices. One of the worst things reported is the burning down of a Sony factory with all of the stock inside also being stolen.

Naturally the temporary shutdown of BBM will spark mass outrage from innocent users of the service. This could be a reason why RIM are reluctant to bow down to the wishes of what seems to be at the moment social networkers and not officials like police. Reports from Tech Radar are saying that RIM will not be turning BBM off tonight, although this has not been officially confirmed.

Even celebrities like Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand have taken to Twitter, pleading with rioters to stop. There are fears football will suffer a big setback from this anarchy. What do you think of these disgraceful scenes that are destroying cities and spreading like wild fire? Let us know who and what you think is to blame for the mass rioting and if you support the call of RIM to shut down BBM.