Is Facebook becoming a force to be reckoned with? Dreamed 4270 days ago | | 484 words

Move over Moveon. Facebook has become the pre-eminent place for protest in on the internet. In the past few weeks I’ve been an astounding use of Facebook to rally students to a cause and to spread information.

First, there is the tale of the University of Mary Washington’s collection of 20,000 votes to receive $20,000 for charity. They were able to rally their community of a mere 4,000 students and get the word out to friends at other schools to make it to 20,000 votes over schools like Vanderbilt, Indiana, and Tennessee. (Note: Terms were each person could vote once per day for one team.)

At the time the contest ended, they were a solid 4,000+ votes ahead of the second place school. This tiny school in Fredericksburg were able to pull their community together to raise a large amount of money for an awesome cause resulting in $200,000 being raised to help poor families in Honduras. (Complete Story)

The second example came up in a Note over at 9Rules where Penn State University reversed a decision on how football tickets would be sold because of Facebook protest.

With over 50,000 users (as of late-2005) Penn State has more than any other school on the web site, those voices can be a force to be reckoned with.

The proposed change would have moved from a first-come first-serve system to a random lottery allowing people further off campus a greater chance to get tickets.

However, the next day, the decision was reversed. The newspaper reported that due to a “outpouring in student sentiment” in the form of “about 15 Facebook groups against it, approximately 20,000 students in these groups, and 3 different rallies planned for today. No one had yet met with the administration.” The newspaper reports the groups were 6,200 strong as of press time of the paper on May 3.

Before these rallies had time to materialize, the decision was reversed. My question is this, how many people would have really shown up at a rally that only attracted 50 people to celebrate the change in decision.

I think we’ve entered a time when clicking a button or emailing a link is what passes for protest nowadays. Yes, the powers of Facebook can be used for good, as seen in Mary Washington.

I think this opens a door for a slippery slope of rallying students, not because they feel strongly, or care about the cause they’re supporting, but because their friends are all doing it.

Time will tell how much power students are really taking back from administrators. And what this means for the future of schools. There is now a tool, open to anyone, that allows for a very quick mobilization of “power” due to its massive popularity. We will all have to wait and see how this changes the online landscape and creeps over into the real world.

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