Doing it by the Facebook

I understand the merits of Facebook as a campaigning tool.  By nature I tend to be averse to anything that’s a)mainstream corporate and b)so fashionable, but I’ve taken the time to listen to those that use it and understood what they see in it as an information and organising tool. More to the point I’ve often said that we need to meet people where they’re at, and Facebook is the cyber equivalent of setting up a stall in the local high street on a Saturday morning.

The danger is that we become seduced by the popularity of the medium. When I’m in the high street I’m not buying into all the corporate consumerist nonsense being advertised at me through countless shop windows. I’m using the space because it attracts people.

This is my appeal not to buy into the ‘promise’ of Facebook. They’re a useful tool as far as they go, but they can’t be relied on when push comes to shove (see below). We need a plan B, alternate technologies that have our best interest at heart. In that sense I’m a Luddite  –  a much misunderstood group who opposed “technologies harmful to the commonality” and not all technology per se.

And if you need any persuading, cast an eye over this week’s edition of radical news-sheet, schNEWS:

Whether you are orchestrating an uprising against an Arab dictator, or planning to wave a few placards to protest the closure of your local library, Facebook has rapidly become a key organising tool for activists around the world.

Facebook’s faceless masters however, seem to have taken issue with being a revolutionary weapon and have instigated a purge of pages of UK activist groups. Around 50 sites disappeared down the internet memory hole in a ‘night of the long nerds’ on April 29th. Anarchist, student and anti-cuts protest groups were amongst those pages erased. No warning was given and no permission asked.

Enraged by this outrageous but perhaps unsurprising political intervention from the multi-billion pound business, Bristol IMC [Indymedia Collective] investigated the closure of the Bristol Anarchist Bookfair page. They were informed the site had been disabled as it was an “inauthentic account” that violated Facebook’s “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities” by not providing a real first and last name. SchNEWS is now rifling through the phone book for the personal details of Mrs Clothing at Tesco, Ms Geeks Are Sexy and Mr R.I.P Raoul Moat You Legend…

If you were outraged at Google’s censorship of the internet in China, get outraged all over again. Let’s not sit by and let Facebook censor activism in the UK simply because we’ve come to see it as indispensable. I’m minded of the, admittedly, overused words of Pastor Niemoller and offer this version updated for the occasion (no offence to the Pastor):

First Facebook came for the anarchists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not an anarchist
Then they came for the direct activists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a direct activist
Then they came for the student activists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a student
Then they came for me
And there were no facebook friends left
To speak out for me

Here’s a link to a list of pages that have been deleted. A simple search on Scroogle will find you more info.