According to media sources David Cameron has hinted at the government blocking social networks to prevent further riots. Without going into the details of the technical implications of this process that even China struggles with, it seems that the government hasn’t considered the financial impact of blocking social networking services.
“Prime Minister David Cameron has suggested that the government plans to block social media services like Twitter as a way of preventing further riots.” Read more: Metro
If the Government were to find a way to remove all UK access to Facebook, Twitter and similar social networking services they would need to block the API’s that mobile devices use to connect to the social networks otherwise the block would be pointless. By blocking the API’s you also block the thousands of businesses from using the authentication methods provided by the likes of Twitter and Facebook.
To make the registration and login process easier for users of online services/businesses, many companies have integrated their services and websites into Facebook and Twitters authentication platforms. These platforms allowing users to use their social media accounts to register/login to sites without having to have a separate login and password for every site/service they use.
For example: James has registered with an online store with his Facebook account and wishes to make a purchase. He adds the items to his basket and proceeds to checkout where he is asked to login. James has registered to the site with his Facebook account so he clicks on the Facebook login to be greeted by our governments social media block and cannot proceed with his order. Depending on the duration of the block and the customer in question, the e-commerce seller has potentially lost a sale. If a large percentage of their customer base use Facebook or Twitter Authentication their business wouldn’t be able to make any sales.
Hopefully I am wrong and any block wouldn’t impact businesses but I won’t hold my breath.
Update: Other areas to consider are: Businesses that employ people to handle their social media, businesses that revolve around social media such as facebook applications and facebook online stores.