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Facebook: Still useful, still not a billboard

Colin Delaney’s article, “Has FacebookFacebook is a social network encouraging real identity — each user has a single account under their full, real name. Facebook began among US college students but has quickly expanded to people of all ages around the world. Jumped the Shark as a Political Tool?,” references my article on organizing rather than mobilizing — that social networking is about communication, not finding another way to pump your supporters for donations or signatures on a petition. This might be particularly challenging for all but the largest and tech-savvy electoral campaigns (as Chris Hughes<, now of my.BarackObama.com, would know). For extraparliamentary activism, though, it’s still a powerful tool for meeting your supporters where they are and organizing them into long-term social movements.

From Colin Delaney, e.politics, 4 May 2008:

Those groups that have found advocacy success on FacebookFacebook is a social network encouraging real identity — each user has a single account under their full, real name. Facebook began among US college students but has quickly expanded to people of all ages around the world. tend to adopt
an approach that USES the one-on-one nature of the site. As one small
example, I spoke to a group of pro-choice activists a few weeks ago,
many of whom work with students on college campuses. When I asked how
Facebook fit into their work, the overwhelming response was that it was
essentially an email replacement — they employed Facebook messages to
reach individual supporters or small groups of supporters when they
were preparing for events or promoting a particular message. The
Genocide Intervention Network demonstrates a much more comprehensive
and strategic approach but the same basic idea: as Ivan Boothe wrote last year<.

Note that Ivan is describing something very different than traditional
mass communications: he’s talking about working closely (no doubt
frequently one-on-one) with people on Facebook and other networking
sites over a long period of time to help build a cadre of very
committed activists
— something that most electoral campaigns (and even
most issue advocacy campaigns) simply can’t do, whether because of lack
of time or lack of resources.