Facebook and the political context

You may have come across this news about a Columbian Facebook group set up to denounce FARC – reported by the BBC amongst others.

If you’re thinking that this is a great example of the power of social networking (which it is!) it’s worth having a glance at this OpenDemocracy article:

Colombia: networks of dissent and power
A Facebook-hosted protest in Colombia raises questions about the character and effect of new-media-based political mobilisation
Catalina Holguín, 4 Feb 2008

It makes some interesting general points on how “the web’s combination of instantaneity and ‘formlessness’ can be double-edged, in that it makes protest of this kind also vulnerable to co-option by those with a far more elaborate and power-driven political agenda”, and “excludes the victims of the (rightwing) ‘paramilitary holocaust’ who are still waiting for promised “truth, justice, and reparations”

Useful as a cautionary tale when considering the potential of Web2.0 participation – whether you’re a campaigner (who is your campaign really helping) or a decision maker (what’s been lost in the simplification process)


About Peter Cruickshank

Lecturer in the School of Computing and a member of the Centre for Social Informatics at Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland. Interested in information systems, learning, politics, society, security and where they intersect. My attempts at rounding out my character include food, cinema, running, history and, together with my lovely wife, bringing up a cat and a couple of kids.
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