Many of us use Facebook as a way to reconnect with friends, post pictures, and for as a social network tool. Yet Facebook can have dual purposes. This week we learned how Facebook and social media sites can also be used to broadcast political change and to be a vehicle for political justice and social activism.
Our film screening on Monday and the readings focused on a young man, Khlad Said, who was murdered by the Egyptian authorities for broadcasting their atrocities on Facebook. Ghonim, the protagonist, used many media tactics in order to enhance his cause. Some of the tactics that he imposed were of: opinion and feedback polls, monitoring traffic, and having comments where people could voice their opinions about the cause. The page developed a subculture where “commenters defended Khlad Said, and the pages mission even though no one knew who was behind the screen” (84). Other Facebook pages were created, and even the Prime minister spoke of Khlad Said. Ghonim was able to humanize his campaign by posting pictures admitted by the people and actual video footage. Without Facebook, Ghonim most likely would not have been able to attain the widespread support of hundred of thousands of followers.
1) One critic of Ghonim’s efforts stated that “This is a street, and this is Facebook and not a street”(153). This critic argued that the virtual world and reality should not be meshed. My question to you is: do you think that campaigns spread on Facebook will be taken as seriously as public protests? What do you think that some of the advantages and disadvantages of using public action verses using social media campaigns would be?
2) When using Facebook one does not have ultimate control over their campaign, as witnessed when Facebook terminated Ghonim’s campaign. How do you think these limitations can be counteracted when using social media and how can one assert authority over their own campaign?