Home > Anti-Cuts Movement > Facebook: Hostile to Anti-Cuts Movement But Still Useful

Facebook: Hostile to Anti-Cuts Movement But Still Useful

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Facebook recently started to close down groups on the social networking site centered around opposing public spending cuts.  Branch Sec assesses the response to that attack from campaigners.

Facebook is an astounding tool for use in promoting and advancing political and social campaigns.  Over the last year many facebook groups have been set up in order to spread messages about the anti-cuts movement and promoting the alternative to government austerity measures.  Over the last few days reports have sprung up about facebook taking down some groups and this has led to an overreaction by campaigners.  Here’s the Guardian’s account on closing of the groups.

It is unclear exactly why facebook has taken the steps that it has but I imagine that they simply don’t make a great deal of advertising money from anti-capitalist pages.  Who knows, they may have had direct complaints by corporations regarding this issue.  This is exactly the same process of ‘censorship by omission’ that bedevils the press and ensures that left wing messages remain out of the mainstream media.  We need to get used to it but we also need to remember that the web is ours and the possibilities stop only when our imaginations give up.

Groups on facebook are just one of the ways people can share messages and organise on the web.  That’s no doubt why many people are now leaving that site and looking for an alternative way to come together online and organise.  Organising elsewhere is clearly necessary if facebook won’t play ball but I would warn against leaving facebook entirely.  Whilst Groups are useful in sharing info with fellow activists we have to remember that in using such groups to spread a message we are often preaching to the converted.  There are other and frankly better ways than facebook groups to promote causes. 

I would argue that it is essential to stay there and use facebook for what it remains good for – sharing amongst people who are signed up as your friends to inform them of things they might not already be aware of.  Sharing links, videos, newspaper articles and blog posts with friends and asking them to pass them on is a way of seeing our messages go viral.  Groups do not do that in the same way.

I have no doubt that some people will start relying on twitter more and I think that tool is particularly useful but it comes into its own when combined with facebook because it’s rare that users have exactly the same list of friends and followers on each social networking site. 

Finding a new way to organise online groups is no bad thing but don’t turn your back on facebook – the chances are you’ll be turning your back on a potential cast list of millions when it comes to the next act in changing our society for the better.  We need to get as many people with us as possible and whilst they stay on facebook we should ensure we’re there also.

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