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 raised questions of how firmly entrenched intellectual freedom is in the world’s established democracies, and how freedom of access to information and freedom of expression (FAIFE) organizations should respond. The social media test is used in this article to examine the standard civil liberties of ‘access’ and ‘participation in established democracies since 2008. 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 to consolidate intellectual freedom in established democracies.