The history of Facebook's borderless, ageless appeals -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

The history of Facebook’s borderless, ageless appeals

Sabir Shah

LAHORE: Facebook, the world’s most widely used social network service having more than 600 million active users, had not only served as a catalyst in mobilizing millions of Egyptian to end the unbridled rule of their President Hosni Mubarak but it had also united the Colombians in February 2008 to protest against the nation’s most powerful rebel group called the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

The seven-year old Facebook had made millions of angry Colombians take to the streets within their own country and around 185 international cities against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (better known as the FARC from the group’s Spanish name). A Facebook group called “One Million Voices Against FARC” had sparked off protests in Colombia against FARC, after two women were abducted and subjected to hardships during their six-year long captivity.

After they were released by the powerful rebel group, the kidnapped women recounted the brutalities meted out to them by FARC, with details posted on the Facebook.

Their message soon snowballed into an online movement and the borderless, ageless appeals on Facebook then played an integral part of the overall effort of the Colombians to show the real face of FARC to the world.

This particular episode then enraged the Spanish-speaking community throughout the world, which then got united on the Facebook to express solidarity with the kidnapped women. Within days, hundreds of thousands of Colombians had resorted to street activism by issuing a very traditional protest call.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, “This event is another example of how technology – such as text messaging on cell phones – can be used to rally large numbers of people to a cause. Some observers say it’s less a response to the FARC’s ideology than it is global public outrage over kidnapping as a weapon.” Colombia continues to be the world’s kidnapping capital with as many as 3,000 hostages now being held.

It goes without saying that the anti-FARC movement had also polarized some Colombians rather than bringing them together as a few of them had felt uncomfortable with the message of taking out rallies.

Founded in 2004 by a few computer science students at the Harvard University, Facebook’s membership was initially restricted to students of Harvard College, but within the first month, more than half the undergraduate population at this prestigious educational institute was registered on the service.

The Facebook founders Mark Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes then expanded this website’s membership to the universities of Stanford, Columbia and Yale, before opening to high school students aged 13 and over.

After its formal incorporation, Facebook’s founders bought the domain name “facebook.com” in 2005 for $0.2 million. Today, Facebook has over 1,700 employees and offices in 12 countries with 24 per cent of its shares owned by Mark Zuckerberg.

In recent years, Facebook has been blocked intermittently in several countries including China, Vietnam, Iran, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Syria, Egypt and Bangladesh on different bases. Facebook is also banned at many workplaces in the world to prevent the wasting of employees’ time.
Source: The News
Date:3/10/2011