Facebook Disrupts Activism

Last week, I caused a little bit of upset by using the wrong word when questioning why an online course was advertising Facebook in its title. (Another typical MJR tact failure… I’m sure many people can guess how it went wrong.)

I’ve written about the general problem before but Facebook in particular irks me because open social networking, based on tools like elgg (as seen at unltdworld.com) and BuddyPress (as seen at gaatalk.net) just isn’t getting a look-in among activists and non-profits. They don’t even seem as popular as the OpenMicroBlogging.org alternatives to the currently-DDoS’d twitter.com (BBC). Third sector Social Networking is almost completely beholden to the private sector, isn’t it?

This is a problem because it leaves campaigning groups vulnerable to the sort of yo-yoing visible/blocked attacks that the Big Green Gathering Facebook group has suffered in the last month.

In general, most activist, voluntary and social enterprise groups don’t seem to have any preference for working and trading with other third sector groups. I’ve been discussing this on some social networks, but the elephant we just can’t crack is: why not? Is it simply because getting a social network application to critical mass requires a longer loss-making start-up time than any voluntary group is willing to bear?

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