Activist Guides

by Yussi Pick

For my Internet Advocacy class (one of two final summer classes in my program) with Alan Rosenblatt, I have to blog about the reading assignments every week. I apologize for this one being a little rant-y and scattered.

So here’s my issue with this week’s reading  “The Digiactive Guide for Twitter for Activism:” It’s a nice guide for getting started on Twitter. Yes, I agree one has to tweet constantly, not too much not too little. Yes, I agree that one shouldn’t follow people randomly just to be followed back. Yes, I agree one should NEVER send automated “Thanks for following” messages (Is it only my impression or did that habbit increase in the last weeks. I haven’t seen it for a while, but I feel it’s back – or maybe I just randomly followed a bunch of users recently who have it. Especially pretentious with private accounts, I think.) But these are very broad tips and have little to do with Activism. Their case studies are interesting but have one thing in common: they were not planned efforts. At this point I’m not even sure if you can plan a successful Twitter for Activism outreach, among other reasons because as we discussed in class: You can’t plan viral. My second issue: he doesn’t acknowledge that Twitter is a mobile device. He doesn’t for example talk about live tweeting to get the word out of your event for people who can’t make it.

My issue with the “The Digiactive Guide for Facebook for Activism” is similar, but has one MOST IMPORTANT TIP. It’s number six. It should be roman one. Begin Real-World Action. I cannot emphasize the importance of this enough. After all, it’s still the real world in which you get the votes or the results. What’s left out is the use of events. That – I would argue – is the first and best way to translate your Facebook audience into a real world crowd. Although expect that about 10% of the people that RSVPed attending actually show up.

My Guide for Activism is: Use both platforms differently. Use Twitter to connect you with strangers and them with each other, talk with them, get your message out and get them to spread your message (= bit.ly link).

Use Facebook to gather demographic data on your supporters. Get them spread the message  among their friends – but it won’t (and shouldn’t) be your message any more. It’s their words, their message, you are only the provider for information. No one retweets you on Facebook.

And finally, slightly unrelated, a piece on USENET use by white supremacists. Great essay, no need to paraphrase: http://www.drdigipol.com/2009/07/08/organizing-on-the-social-web-a-cold-blast-from-the-past/

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