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Facebook Activism Advantages and how it can work better Introduction Social networking sites in general and Facebook

in particular have contributed to change people life socially as well as politically and economically. The Facebook is used by different people for different purposes. For example some people use it for social interactions family, friendships etc. some use it for advertising, marketing and generating traffic for their websites, others use it for political activism, campaigns, protests, humanitarian issues etc. To understand the popularity that Facebook has and affecting people life, there are currently more than 800 million users and expected to be a billion by September this year (source, www.mashable.com). In addition, a study conducted by the Pew Internet and American life Project suggested that 73% of wired American teens now use social networking websites and 62% get their news about events and politics on-line (source, Social Media and Young Adult). These examples confirm how Facebook became important. The focus of this paper will be on Facebook activism, whether it has advantages, challenges goes a long with it and how it can work better. Although there are many challenges associated with using any social media tool to bring about and gather support for a cause, specifically in regard to activism, many groups turn to Facebook because it's one of the easiest ways to quickly connect with your supporters and friends and spread a message. Recent events in Egypt and Tunisia have demonstrated how social media tools and platforms can be effectively used to share news, record human rights abuse and generate worldwide support. Despite these advantages there are others who believe that activism through Facebook is limited and runs the risk of replacing real activism and other forms of civic participation with less

effective activity (source, www.allfacebook.com). In addition, an article writen by Evgeny Morozov try to show that social activism on the websites like Facebook has little real impact for social change (source,

Evgeny Morozov). Also in Jorgenson experiment in which he tries to show that people can come together for a reason that doesn't exist addressed the issue from a different point of view to aid his argument and concluded that activists can gather for a non-existing cause. Given the arguments above I will first argue that the advantages of Facebook activism goes is way above its critique and I will show that the latest movements led by youth and teens specially in the middle east underscored the limitations that can be found when using social networking sites to organize and plan for activism. Also I will address some of the challenges that goes with using Facebook which ranges from shutting down activist web pages, to arrest and interrogation by local authorities that may include torture and human right abuse etc. and discuss what Facebook can do to address the challenges facing activist. Activism as defined by wikipedia.org consists of intentional efforts to promote, impede or direct social, political, economic or environmental change (source, www.wikipedia.org). Activism can take different forms such as protest, strikes etc. In many countries around the world freedom of expression is restricted, their rights to form groups is taken by authorities and the citizens live in cadges of dictatorships and suppressions. In aiding my argument here I take the example of middle eastern societies where they have been living for more that three decades under confiscated rights and abuses by their own government. With the Internet revolution in general and social networking sites in particular the

education and awareness expanded as information can beaccessed quickly and cheap. Citizens of these countries found a heaven in Facebook where they can group themselves effectively, share their concerns and hike their awareness. These awarenesses translated into more and more demand for democracy, human rights, economic prosperity and social interactions. Facebook became the order of the day and help in creating what is come to be known as arab spring which I can define as a series of revolutions of demonstrations and protests taking place in the Arab world which began on Saturday, 18 December 2010

up to date and resulting in the fall of the dictator governments in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and now its under way in Yemen, Syria, Baharain, Sudan as well as other countries in the middle east. The google marketing manger in the middle east Mr. Wail Gunaim stressed that the the Egyptian revolution was born in Facebook (source www.aljazeera.net). This revolution now is known by revolution 2.0. As a result the users of social networking websites increased from 21.2 million before the revolution to 23.1 million after or 8.9%. Facebook is the third most visited website in Egypt after google and yahoo. The sologan We are all Khalid Said in Facebook gains popularity and became the venue that the revolutionary group will visit to get news and updates. Khalid Said is a young demonstrator who was killed by Egyptian authorities for trying to mobilize people against the oppressing regime. His friends and supporters created a web page on Facebook that officially started the uprising in the country. As Facebook became a threat to the government and the website is often closed and the users are targeted by the authorities. Also, in places like Sudan government officials pretending to be protest organizers used Facebook to tempts and attract participants to a specific location only to arrest people when they arrive. These are some of the risks and challenges associated with activism on Facebook. Facebook puts restriction on using the site. According to Facebook's terms of service, profiles must be associated with real names, therefore the website currently not allowing users to create profiles with falsely name. This is no doubt is a problem for activists fear their safety and wanting to protect their privacy. A large number of Egyptian Activists with presences on Facebook were arrested. The Facebook chief security officer defends the current policy, saying "We get requests all the time in a few different contexts where people would like to impersonate someone else. Police wanting to go undercover or human rights activists, say. And we, just based on our core mission and core product, don't want to allow that. That's just not what Facebook is. Facebook is a place where people connect with real people in their lives using their real identities." (source, www.movements.org).

Facebook policy of use faced difficult criticism given the safety and privacy of the organizers and the fate that they are going to face, they believe that Facebook represent a forum where they can say their opinions without problem but now they are in troubles for using the site because their identities is discovered and now have to face jail and torture. In this regard, Facebook does very little when it comes to its position on how the site can be used for activism and has not been direct and open in speech or expression regarding governments that block access to social networking sites. For example, after the Egyptian government shut down the internet, Google along with engineers from Twitter and other websites quickly setup a Speak2Tweet, which is a service allowing Egyptians to leave a voice mail message that is transformed into a Tweet. Facebook, on the side did not offer any reaction to the blocks and chasing of users although there are more than 800,000 active Egyptian members in Facebook. Conclusion Since Facebook successfully helping activist and brining goups together for a cause in a fast and cheap way, It's clear that there is a need to better educate activists about how to safely and securely plan events and the website it should provide better understanding about privacy and security issues. Now what should the company be doing to more actively support the work of grassroots organizers and activists?. Should the site provide better education and outreach about privacy and security issues? I think Facebook has to address these issues. In this paper I explained how important Facebook became in changing people life. I gave different examples of how this change can take place especially in the political life. Activists find Facebook a good way to organize themselves and we concluded that it does help those groups to achieve their goals. To stress on my points I gave an example of How Facebook help in revolution that lead to Arab Spring and it also lead to more freedom and democracy. I mentioned above that at least in the Middle East countries there are lots of changes going on especially to more democracy, freedom and economic improvement.

Facebook must help educate people about their rights and help them come together as groups to ask for more changes which I think it's important if we look for better future. References: http://www.allfacebook.com/facebook-activism-pitfalls-2010-05 http://www.aljazeera.net http://www.wikipedia.org Culture 2.0 in Envision in Depth by Christine Alfano and Alyassa O'brien. http://www.movements.org/blog/entry/what-can-facebook-do-to-better-support-activists/