Power to the People and Facebook

I just read a Fascinating article on Face book and its impact on advocacy. First some stats:

Facebook has added 250,000 new users each day. Canadians have led the way, accounting for about eight million of the site’s nearly 60 million global users.

Michael Geist just wrote an article in the Ottawa Citizen on his experience with using Facebook as an advocacy tool and the results are nothing short of remarkable. Here is an except from his article.

“Consider the experience of the Fair Copyright for Canada Facebook group, which I launched on Dec. 1, with limited expectations. With the federal government expected to introduce new copyright reform within a matter of days, a Facebook group seemed like a good way to educate the public about an important issue. I sent invitations to a hundred or so Facebook friends and seeded the group with links to a few relevant websites.

What happened next was truly remarkable. Within hours, the group started to grow, first 50 members, then 100, and then 1,000 members. One week later, there were 10,000 members. Two weeks later, there were more than 25,000 members with another Canadian joining the group every 30 seconds.

The big numbers tell only part of the story. The group is home to more than 500 wall posts, links to 150 articles of interest, more than 50 discussion threads, dozens of photos, and nine videos. Nine days ago, it helped spur on an offline protest when Kempton Lam, a Calgary technologist, organized 50 group members who descended on Industry Minister Jim Prentice’s area open house to express their views on copyright. While Facebook was not the only source of action — there was mounting coverage from the mainstream media along with hundreds of blog postings (including 300 questions posted for Prentice at the CBC Search Engine blog) — the momentum was unquestionably built on thousands of Canadians who were determined to have their voices heard.

Much to the surprise of skeptics who paint government as unable or unwilling to listen to public concerns, those voices had an immediate impact. Ten days after the Facebook group’s launch, Prentice delayed introducing the new copyright reforms, seemingly struck by the rapid formation of concerned citizens who were writing letters and raising awareness.

Not only had tools like Facebook had an immediate effect on the government’s legislative agenda, but the community that developed around the group also led to a “crowdsourcing” of knowledge. Canadians from coast to coast shared information, posed questions, posted their letters to politicians, and started a national conversation on copyright law in Canada.

In this instance, Canadians increasingly recognized the detrimental effect of the proposed copyright reforms on consumer rights, privacy, and free speech, and were moved to act.”

As he points out in his article “Facebook is far more than just a cool way to catch up with old friends; rather, it is an incredibly effective and efficient tool that can be used to educate and galvanize grassroots advocacy, placing unprecedented power into the hands of individuals.”

 Face book and blogging has really changed things and give a new meaning to “ power to the people”. We live in interesting times. I suspect we are in a midst of a communications revolution and I pity the poor politician who today has to face these new advocacy technologies. No longer will government be able to do things on the legislative front without facing the strongest lobbying tool ever invented Web 2.0 and Facebook, Youtube and blogging as well as other tools that are emerging So hold your hat we are in for the ride of our life and if you are not familiar with the new technologies read my colleague’s Mike Kujawski’s blog    Public Sector Marketing 2.0

Governments continue to block employee access to sites like Facebook which is extremely shortsighted and in the long run they will pay a big political price.

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