Peter Smith

Publications, Lectures and Other Stuff

Facebook: Its Success and its Use in Politics

Just read David Kirkpatrick’s useful essay: ‘Four Reasons Facebook Became A Colossus’ (link below) [Linkedin, 4 February 2014].

1. Kirkpatrick identifies 4 main reasons for FB’s success:

-i. Zuckerberg takes the very long view for FB’s development.

-ii. Unlike some other social media companies FB is technologically aware. :

-iii. FB users can control who sees their postings.

-iv. Zuckerberg was able to utilize the talents of a skillful businesswoman (Sheryl Sandberg) to build out the advertising and financial side of the company.


2. In terms of political use, Kirkpatrick argues that FB has ‘changed the face of global politics’, so that worldwide, ‘dissatisfied’ citizens can post their feelings to their friends and so potentially have an impact on wider social perceptions. Examples include:

-i. The Arab Spring (as the most visible expression of this).

-ii. Anti-government protesters in Ukraine.

-iii. Students opposed to building alterations at a high school in Michigan.

-iv. Anti-government protesters in Thailand.

-v. Opponents of a West Australian government policy to start killing sharks (supporters of the policy also organized on Facebook).

-vi. African asylum-seekers in Israel.

-vii. ‘March for Life’ anti-abortion protesters in Washington.

-viii. Protesters in Brazil aiming to shut down shopping malls to protest inequality.

He himself has set a daily Google Alert with the words ‘Facebook’ and ‘protest’ and has received many results.

However, FB can also be used by those who want to stifle dissent, as with the recent arrest of 11 Egyptians ‘merely for managing political pages on Facebook’.

The full article is worth reading. Here is the link:

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This entry was posted on February 7, 2014 by in Social Media and tagged , , .
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