David Cameron’s announcement during the 2011 riots across cities in the United Kingdom to consider shutting down social media shocked the international information community. It raises questions of how far below the surface of the world’s established democracies censorship lies, and how freedom of access to information and freedom of expression (FAIFE) bodies should respond. Social media are used in this article to test how firmly entrenched intellectual freedom is in established democracies through a comparison with countries with an authoritarian track record. The method is to evaluate the use of social media in recent protests in a sample of established democracies and authoritarian regimes, and to compare differences and similarities in government responses. The article concludes with recommendations for IFLA’s FAIFE Committee.