Leaders debate fails to cover technology issues, as social networking sites experience huge traffic that causes Facebook application to crash

News by Dan Raywood

Last night's leaders debate fails to address technology dilemmas.

Last night's leaders debate fails to address technology dilemmas.

With Labour leader Gordon Brown, Conservative leader David Cameron and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg focusing on domestic issue on the ITV1 debate, technology issues were not addressed.

With a question asked on law and order, Cameron claimed that the Metropolitan Police have 400 uniformed officers in their human resources department and that ‘police officers should be crime fighters, not form-fillers, and that's what needs to change'.

Echoing recent research that found that one in four schoolchildren has attempted some level of hacking, Clegg claimed that ‘there are too many young offenders who start first getting into trouble with low level nuisance anti-social behaviour who become the hardened criminals of tomorrow'.

He said: “What we've got to do is stop the young offenders of today becoming the hardened criminals tomorrow. That's the way to get burglary and crime down.”

Brown claimed that there is a need for ‘effective policing on the streets', and said that parents need to accept responsibility for their children. He said: “If an order is passed against a teenager, then the parent has also got to accept responsibility, and we're bringing that in now.” This may also bear reference to the recently passed Digital Economy Bill, where parents may be held responsible for their children's online activity.

Clegg later told students that the Digital Economy Bill should be repealed and the issues revisited. Responding to a question about whether the bill should be reconsidered given the manner in which it was pushed through, and the lack of knowledge demonstrated by some ministers, he said: “We did our best to prevent the Digital Economy Bill being rushed through at the last moment.

“It badly needed more debate and amendment, and we are extremely worried that it will now lead to completely innocent people having their internet connections cut off. It was far too heavily weighted in favour of the big corporations and those who are worried about too much information becoming available. It badly needs to be repealed, and the issues revisited.”

The leaders debate created a huge response online however, with the Tweetminister page reporting that 184,396 were sent commenting on the debate, with an average frequency of 29.06 tweets per second with 36,483 people commenting on it.

Channel 4's technology correspondent Benjamin Cohen reported that Facebook's Rate the Debate application crashed due to the number of people trying to take part. He said: “I wasn't able to view the live data from Facebook at all during the debate, despite constantly trying throughout the debate. At one point I was able to take part by turning the dial, but this too was inaccessible for much of the evening.

“The company posted a number of status updates saying they were attempting to switch-on a number of additional servers but clearly were unable to cope.”

Facebook said: “With over 43,000 fans currently following Democracy UK, tonight's Rate the Debate application experienced a groundswell of users. This volume of participation is a testament to the popularity and appetite for the application and we'll ensure it is ready for the impact of next week's debate. As many of you will have seen, ITV.com captured comments from Democracy UK fans as part of its online streaming.”

Cohen commented: “Facebook is one of the world's largest technology companies and while some of the technology was provided by third parties, it is embarrassing that they weren't able to stand-up to the high traffic the service received, given that others seemed able to provide the service they wished.”


Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Video and interviews