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Facebook is generally the least democratic medium you can find. And yet an interesting thing is happening. People are using groups to affect change. Facebook permits groups to have long, descriptive titles, so many group are formed around specific issues. For example:

  • Official Facebook Petition: To ban the inviting of friends on Applications
  • facebook should join the OpenSocial alliance
  • Enough with the Poking, Lets Just Have Sex
  • My photos are MINE! NOT Facebook's! Change the Terms and conditions!
  • Official Petition for Colored Profiles on Facebook!

The request is then spelled out inside the group. As people notice the group, and join it, it reaches more and more people. In a sort of cascade where the more people agree with a position, the more people can see it. As it raises attention, eventually the owner and programmers of facebook see it, and may act upon it. There is generally no set time frame. They can just ignore it. But the group will usually stay also there, a memorandum of what are making the users unhappy. Or they can do what the people request, or they can do something else all together. Being a group, people inside an issue can also exchange material and organise. Often those groups don't see a lot of activity inside, being mostly intended for the outside. But the possibility is there. To note that some of those groups DID manage to change the way facebook was designed. For example at the beginning Facebook update included the word 'is'. So it would say Pietro is... and then you could add what you wanted. Now the word 'is' is the default, but it can be deleted. This was done after a group requested it. Similarly the political views now have also the possibility to write your own description. Again a change that was done after a popular group asked for it. After a change is being done the group is generally either dismantled, or people slowly leave it.

Some time there are more possibilities, and more group are being created, each for each position. Then each user can join all the groups with which they agree with. A bit like having to vote, but being allowed to vote for each possibility they agree with. An example of this is are the groups on opensocial. Should facebook join or not opensocial. Some people see this as a threat to facebook. So they are heavily against it. While others see it as a standard that FB should join too. For example:

  • facebook should join the OpenSocial alliance
  • Unite Against OpenSocial (they want to kill facebook)
  • Facebook should implement 'OpenSocial'
  • I'm switching from facebook to OpenSocial when it launches.
  • Facebook should implement Google's Open Social

Facebook groups are not only aimed at the inside, but also at the outside. Groups like the following are all trying to affect the world. Some are official petitions, some jokes, and some cries of pain, with little real possibilities for an effect. For example:

  • Support the Monks protest in Burma
  • Petition to revoke the independence of the United States of America (123,943 members)
  • Petition to Annex the United Kingdom as Part of the United States (3,475 members)
  • Stop LIVE animal skinning in China - sign the petition
  • 4 Day Week, 3 Day Weekend. (Offical Government Petition)

An article on how the new generation are using those petitions to change the world was recently published too.

Lessons from Facebook

It seems that as soon as people are given the possibility to vote on something they will use it. Even when there is no security that it will actually have an effect. Also to ask for very specific changes in a document.

On the other side groups here are just a suggestion. Facebook can very well ignore a group. Also they have more possibilities of effect depending on how many people join. So it is not how much is the difference between the various sides that matters, but how many people are interested in the issue.

See also

External links