Posted by: danielharan | July 31, 2007

Non-profit marketing on Facebook

I got asked by a friend what I thought of the potential of Facebook to help non-profit and advocacy groups.

Facebook can seem scary. Spammers and spying came up as concerns. Spamming simply isn’t a concern unless your profile is there for everyone to see. However, it would be difficult to design a better intelligence gathering tool to spy on specific activists or map networks. (It would of course produce far too many leads and false positives, although CSIS would probably try to use it for that.)

Canadian law enforcement spies on many innocuous progressive groups. Before the APEC summit, the Raging Grannies and other groups were under surveillance by the RCMP. Don’t trust those flowery dresses, those grannies are commies! Amnesty International are terrorists! The Anglican Church are hell bent on destruction!

So you see, those crazy anarchists that go to logging protests and anti-globalization marches are likely to have pretty thick files. If you think that’s paranoid ranting, read this book: Whose National Security? Those activists probably shouldn’t use facebook for organizing – although they should assume they are being spied on anyways. If a strategy requires secrecy, it’s almost certainly a bad one.

The concerns I have with facebook are that it’s a closed garden, and that all that is written there belongs to a corporation. It is however a very good organizing tool for spreading the word – politically savvy groups should use it while keeping an eye out for more open alternatives. That should include blogs and more usable websites, something most advocacy groups still haven’t clued in to.



  1. hi daniel,
    it’s a good post, showing that facebook is now used by every other individual and company to promote their agendas. I see it now as the new web2.0. People I have never seen in montreal now start to invite me to their events (creacamp), casey mckinnon is using to promote galacticast etc.

    for me, i like it because it gave me the chance to re-connect to the people I went to high school with. I believed I lost contact with them but they magically reapparead.

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