What do Hillary Clinton, Barak Obama and Oscar Morales of northern Colombia have in common?
They all use FaceBook (with varying success) to call people to action. But Morales has had far greater success than either of the Democratic candidates.
Earlier this year, Morales created the FaceBook group, One Million Voices Against the FARC and used the site to organize a worldwide protest march. The FARC and other guerilla movements began in the 1960s, and they have been accused of kidnappings, civilian massacres, political intimidation, extortion and other human rights violations.
Colombia has almost 650,000 FaceBook users, but the support for the march came from all over the globe. As the group’s popularity grew, more traditional media outlets pick up on the story. In the end, an estimated 2 million Colombians marched on February 5 in a unified show of protest, and solidarity protests were held in 193 cities throughout Latin America, Europe, North America and Asia.
What made this communication tool so effective?
Online social networking sites are a great way to get information spread throughout your network, and to simultaneously increase your network, so the basic structure and culture of the application helped.
Clarity was another factor of success. Rival and copy capt groups appeared on FaceBook calling for other marches, but their details were less clear. Said one marcher, “I received a FaceBook invite for a different march on December 16, but the message was so vague. The organizers of that event were saying they wanted peace, but they weren’t pointing out who was responsible for the violence. So I didn’t go. With this invite, it was so clear that I sent it to all my friends.”