I’ve written a good deal about both the positive organisational opportunities created by social networking. Here I’m going to look at one of the strong negatives, the intensification and deepening of conflict as a result of online disagreement . This results in fracturing movements even resulting in people unable to be physically in the same space as each other, never mind work together in a sustainable way.
This piece has been written over many months, and I’ve delayed publication at several points to avoid what I’m saying being mistaken for a specific commentary on the latest flare up. Take my references here as being very general and drawn from a long exposure to political discussion on and offline. I’ve been arguing with people online since 1992. Where I’m referring to specific incidents I’ll make that clear, otherwise I’m talking about patterns I’ve observed rather than specific incidents. This is defientley not about you, dear reader even if I hope its relevant to you.
Yesterday, in a cynical ploy, the UK parliamentary committee on intelligence affairs released a report which tried to lay the blame for Fusilier Lee Rigby's murder on Facebook. This piece explains why that accusation is not only baseless but an attack on all of us.
Recent changes Facebook has made to Pages & Events have greatly reduced its usefulness for radical political organising. Here I reject the idea that the reason for these changes is political censorship and examine what the actual reasons & effects are. In doing this I'm building on my article of last week that argues that Facebook should be a collectively owned public utility and not a private company - in part because of the way it has sabotaged its own usefulness in the search for advertising revenue.
Over the last few months changes made by Facebook have greatly reduced the effectiveness of Events and Pages because it has become much less likely that someone following a page will see made by that page. According to Facebook on average only 12% of followers will see a given post. In 2011 Facebook did the same to events, multiple changes in the way events work saw response rates to event invitations decline from around 80% of those invited responding to this figure often being less than 20%.