Monday, November 26, 2012

Facebook Activism

After completing the readings for this week I did the usual sort of thing, opened up my browser and quickly (but somehow unintentionally) found myself perusing through facebook. Much to my surprise/joy/astonishment there were a handful of people crowding my news feed with the same post declaring personal copyright and ownership of all their online content and information. Here is the general opening that everyone used, “In response to the new Facebook guidelines I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, graphics, comics, paintings, photos and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berner Convention). For commercial use of the above my written consent is needed at all times!” 

Not surprisingly, the viral copyright statement was widely debunked (apparently facebook posts don't count as copyrights ) across all of the popular internet news sources (HuffPo, Atlantic, Reddit) and at about midday there seemed to be as many people posting links to these articles as there were people posting the copyright statement. The whole phenomenon was interesting though because it really highlighted the relationship between slacktivism, the object (or cause) of concern, and the medium of communication. Fung and Shkabatur spend a good deal of time in their essay talking about Gatekeepers and the role they play in promoting causes and bringing national or even global attention to a particular issue. They tend to think about Gatekeepers though in terms of accredited sources that people are more likely to take seriously. Given the brief facebook phenomena as well as the fact that its popularity was in response to facebook changing its privacy policy, it seems necessary to not only think through institutions as gatekeepers but the media through which we communicate as well. Given the turn towards facebook, twitter and other networks as sites of public and political discourse, it does seem precarious that these networks themselves should be the subject of such discourse.

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