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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 Facebook 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.