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The Internet Social Networks

Can Web-Based Protests Be a Force for Change? 76

Posted by Soulskill
from the we-come-a-long-way-since-"sign-my-petition" dept.
Lucas123 writes: "Several high profile protests have circulated across the Web in the past few weeks, garnering social and news media attention — and even forcing the resignation of one high-level executive. There are two components driving the trend in Internet protests: They tend to be effective against Web services, and online networks allow people to mobilize quickly. According to a study released last month by Georgetown University's Center for Social Impact Communication, active Web useres are likely to do far more for a cause than simply 'like' it on a website. And, because a few clicks can cancel a service, their actions carry weight. But there may be a coming backlash as people can grow tired of online activism; and corporations may also take a more proactive stance in response to them."
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Can Web-Based Protests Be a Force for Change?

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  • SOPA
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by davester666 (731373)

      it was only a force for delay, not change. There is an approximately 100% likelihood that SOPA, in virtually it's entirety, will be enacted in NA and the EU, probably via trade deal. Likely, it will be sold to both sides as "the other side demanded it".

      • Re:One word (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MrBigInThePants (624986) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @05:47PM (#46735973)
        Dude, a delay IS change. Not the change you may have wanted but change nonetheless.
        And just because your political system has been so derailed by corporate interests it did not work long term does NOT mean that the process could not have been 100% successful in a more sensible ecosystem also - please try to remember that not every country is as corporate captured as yours.

        And what this shows more than anything is that they can raise awareness of the livestock to the point where politicians start to give a fuck what they think again. Considering how infrequently this occurs this IS important.
  • Yeah, that Mozilla guy stepped down, but there aren't a lot of real consequences to that (save for him being out an easy paycheck ).

    Take a look at Occupy Wall Street. That was a real movement with real impact. It was also systematically (and very effectively) shut down before it accomplished anything :(.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by pjt33 (739471)

      movement with real impact ... shut down before it accomplished anything

      I think I spy an oxymoron.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      One of the direct effects of Occupy Wall-street is the widespread realization that government just does not care about the average Joe, and is willing to shut down a protest movement at gunpoint.

      This has had some interesting effects:
      A: Firearms and Ammunition Shortages caused by stockpiling by the public and Federal Government.
      B: Nobody trusts the Federal government; the federal government cannot communicate a message because any message they communicate is perceived as a lie.
      C: Everyone believes firmly the

      • by sumdumass (711423)

        think about the effect of a widespread Armed protest movement;

        We almost got to find out. [reuters.com]Well, not exactly in the sense you were thinking. I know of about 200 people who went to this guy's ranch just to target practice over the few weeks. Well, I don't know all of them, I know people who know them and they told me about them.

    • by David_Hart (1184661) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @04:12PM (#46735453)

      Yeah, that Mozilla guy stepped down, but there aren't a lot of real consequences to that (save for him being out an easy paycheck ).

      Take a look at Occupy Wall Street. That was a real movement with real impact. It was also systematically (and very effectively) shut down before it accomplished anything :(.

      Occupy Wall Street was a protest by a bunch of unorganized 18 to 20 somethings with no leader, agenda, or coherent message. It had no impact whatsoever, other than on the local police overtime budget. Nothing real came out of it simply because there was no real foundation to build on.

      If you want to talk about a movement that was systematically destroyed, take a look at the Tea Party. It was originally started by a coalition of conservatives and democrats for the express purposes of promoting of fiscal responsibility within government. It was systematically taken over by the conservative far right and bears no resemblance to what it originally stood for.

    • by tomhath (637240)
      Occupy Wall Street was a George Soros funded dirty trick to besmirch Mitt Romney. As soon as the election was over Soros stopped funding OWS and it went away. One could argue that it had the planned impact though - generating ill feelings toward a certain successful investor.
    • by rtb61 (674572)

      Occupy wall street left a lasting image of two things resistance and oppression. A reminder that we can resist and solid evidence that public expression of political dissent is being emphatically and violently being suppressed. Evil in the current US Federal administration as well as in State administrations was exposed for what it is, Uncle Tom Obama the choom gang coward could no longer hide behind the propaganda charade of the Fox not-News Empire and was exposed for who he really was, a corporate puppet

    • by jbolden (176878)

      Take a look at Occupy Wall Street. That was a real movement with real impact. It was also systematically (and very effectively) shut down before it accomplished anything :(.

      It moved the national conversation i.e. the president, congress... from budget cuts to inequality. Since then we've had a tax policy change which shifted income a bit, are talking about an increase i the minimum wage and didn't get nearly the level of food stamp cuts the Republicans were aiming for. Yeah they accomplished quite a bit

  • I don't know about that. I dropped Godaddy years ago because of what they were doing. And now I have dropped Dropbox for hiring a potential war criminal. It might not be a Watts riot but I know at least 3 people who have dropped Dropbox; this might not seem like many but that is a good chunk of people who I know personally who use it. Plus I will never recommend it again, which was how most of these people discovered it.

    Plus depending on your use of Dropbox there are far better services. If you are simpl
    • . If you are simply storing and sharing files with a select few then Google drive gives you 15 GB which is a huge amount of storage in comparison

      Unfortunately, a big part of the objection to Rice is the fear of DB becoming even more hostile to the concept of user privacy. Extra space aside, google isn't a particularly viable alternative.

    • by cffrost (885375)

      [D]epending on your use of Dropbox there are far better services. If you are simply storing and sharing files with a select few then Google drive gives you 15 GB which is a huge amount of storage in comparison.

      Plus with someone like Rice onboard, how long before Dropbox ends up in an incestuous relationship with the NSA?

      You claim to be concerned about "incestuous relationship[s] with the NSA," yet you recommend another corporate partner in NSA's PRISM [wikipedia.org] spy-ring in favor of another. Why not find/try a tool or service that hasn't already been implicated in NSA-produced documents in serving as a front-end for one or more of their "collect it all" programs? In my view, that one of these corporate partners allows you to hand over more data to the NSA than a competitor isn't a compelling argument for its use — especially wh

      • What non-US dropbox providers would you suggest? I am looking at opencloud and setting it up on my own server. But opencloud is seemingly a little not quite ready for primetime.

        Ideally my data is stored encrypted on the server with password access limiting access to the data itself. But only decrypted on the client side. Also ideally it would have multiple user file sharing with all that implies.

        But my dream feature is that you can access the data online (still client decrypted) through interfaces at
    • Plus with someone like Rice onboard, how long before Dropbox ends up in an incestuous relationship with the NSA?

      Now how would that happen when the NSA is currently in bed with the Democrats...

      Rice is just an expert on how they operate, not in cooperation. All she ever said was acceptable was monitoring people with known terrorist contacts. The other stuff ALL came along under the watch of many Democrats.

  • by koan (80826)

    They can be ignored as can email campaigns, the things we should be focused ob is term limits recalling "citizens united" and getting rid of lobbyist.

    • by westlake (615356)

      They can be ignored as can email campaigns, the things we should be focused ob is term limits recalling "citizens united" and getting rid of lobbyist.

      Term limits increase a lobbyist's power.

      He will have have experience, staff, and resources and long-term connections to the folks back home. The lobbyist from the central states will know grain and cattle. The lobbyist from Texas. oil and natural gas.

    • by sumdumass (711423)

      You cannot recall citizens united. What you have to do is amend the constitution to exclude the free speech you do not agree with and allow the government to regulate it. It is the entire reason why the amendment process was put into the constitution- so you didn't have to go around violating it and people's rights when you all the sudden think someone is outdated.

      The same thing can be said about lobbyist and term limits. The constitution doesn't allow the government to put limits outside what is already sp

  • Look at how Occupy Wall Street fizzled out.

    • by swb (14022) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @03:35PM (#46735227)

      That's what they're saying in Tunisia, Egypt and Ukraine now.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Historically peaceful protests are rarely effective. It is correlated to situations that call for large scale protests. People protest against a greater power, and because it's peaceful the powers don't really need to give a shit. However, the force behind protests - the idea that the people deserve better - is more worrying to those that are protested against; they know the next step could hurt them badly, so they try many things to undermine the protesters' efforts. Those who don't think they're strong en

        • by Gort65 (1464371)
          But then if the authorities didn't listen to him and his kind, then they'd soon find that they'd have to listen to some other scarier people with growing support. Damage limitation, etc.
          • by russotto (537200)

            If instead of fucking around with putting MLK in jail for 30-60 days at a time, they've managed to get the laws changed so that organizing a sit-in was a felony, they could have kept him locked up, incommunicado or nearly so, for years and kept him on a tight leash (as a convicted felon) even if he got out.

            The scarier people could either have gotten the message or been shot while resisting arrest.

            We've got the necessary laws, 100 times over, by now. The protests that happen are ineffective because anything

    • Look at how Occupy Wall Street fizzled out.

      I think that OWS fizzled out because, while the occupiers correctly identified that there is something wrong with the political/economic power structure in this country, they never were able to articulate what they felt was wrong, and neither did they have any solutions in mind. Take the Washington DC OWS, for instance. The encampment was right on K street, yet nobody there could articulate their objection to the corporate lobbying and influence purchasing that was happening, quite literally, in the buildin

  • by Revek (133289)

    The majority of the people in power or with power don't care until mainstream media stops ignoring it.

  • by braindrainbahrain (874202) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @03:19PM (#46735115)

    Answer: No. At least not for anything of consequence. Just look at how many successful petitions came out of change.org.
    Anyone that thinks a web based protest would be effective should read "The Revolution will not be Tweeted" by by Malcolm Gladwell, published in New Yorker magazine, to understand why.

    http://www.newyorker.com/repor... [newyorker.com]

    • In order for a protest movement to be effective it needs to convince people who make decisions that it is effective. It needn't actually be disruptive, just give the impression that it is. I think a carefully targeted online protest can be quite powerful as long as people believe it's powerful. That means appearances in the mainstream media, mentions at weekly meetings, that sort of thing. Petitions at the petition site are just viewed as a pressure valve by those in power.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    You all saw how far the "Beta Blockers" got with their "activism" and we still have to deal with it....

  • Despite Snowden's disclosure of the NSA classifieds, not much has been done.
    However, with SOPA, many sites actually stopped their services in protest to the proposed bill, so users of those sites actually got the message upon visiting them.
    • That's the big difference. The big corporate sites who would have been negatively impacted by SOPA (Google, e.g.) carried those protests. The fact that blocking the law turned out better for actual people was really just a happy accident.

  • Well from what I am hearing about the results at the Bundy ranch ( which are admittedly very unclear ATM, I can only go on what the news tells me ). Yes it can.
    Though I am sure the original poster is one of those who would not classify the Bundys as "more equal" then others.

  • by Chas (5144) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @05:01PM (#46735727) Homepage Journal

    Basically they're only worth the effort it takes to ignore or dismantle.
    In the case of online protests, they can be safely ignored.
    In the case of physical protests, if there's no rioting, they're ignored.
    If there's rioting, they're suppressed.

    And not just in the US.

    Look at the Kirchner kleptocracy in Argentina. They had tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of people rioting in the street.
    Kirchner's response? What riot? Ooh! Prada shoes! I'll nationalize something else, and squeeze a bit more money out of my citizens and I can buy all I want!

    We're pretty much at the point where the government has stopped giving a fuck. They have more and bigger guns than we do, and that's the end of it.

    The only way to effect real change nowadays is if lots and lots of people are willing to kill, bleed and die for their principles.

    Unfortunately, things are too damn cushy for most people to want to go that far.

    So, in the gilded cage we sit.

    • by xvan (2935999)
      In the particular case of Argentina, protests have done something...

      2001 Riots took down the president.
      Kosteki & Santillan deaths lead to early elections call.
      125 Protest lead to the congress tie, the law wasn't passed.
      Last year the (illegal) police strike and subsequent riot.

      Similar events can be found through all latam

      I believe that the main difference between US and latam is:

      a) Latin Amerca has strong presidential systems. US has a strong party system.
      So in Latin America presidents have
    • You don't need to bleed. You do need to stop paying your taxes. Everyone does. Then, change happens. Protest is just to raise awareness, then you have to actually DO SOMETHING. You have to boycott.
  • corporations may also take a more proactive stance in response to them

    Putting Condi Rice in charge of privacy: not a "proactive stance."

  • by tulcod (1056476) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @05:55PM (#46736033)

    One thing that definitely plays a role in this discussion is that in big street protests, a lot of people have to come out of their house and basically waste their day for this one cause. This in itself shows how strongly they feel about certain issues.

    This is much more difficult in the case of internet protests: we all know how little facebook likes mean.

    If you want to make web-based protests work, you will somehow have to incorporate an element of effort, which - since the only tissue we have online is that of information - is going to have to have some intellectual ingredient. Indeed, the many discussions we are having on this very website can be seen as minor protests.

    • by ponos (122721)

      I agree with your post. People physically walking in the street are much more impressive than 120000 clicks. Have you seen 100000 people in the street recently? Nevertheless, I would like to add that if the web campaign results in monetary losses, as in people cancelling orders or boycotting companies, it could result in significant distress.

      As you say, in the end it has to be much more concrete than virtual "downthumbs".

  • by gelfling (6534)

    It's all angry feel gooderism pointless bullshit.

  • If a few million people stop supporting a company because they spend ad dollars at Fox News we might see serious changes at Fox. The powerful do understand a punch in the wallet rather quickly.
  • In addition to them choosing Condoleezza Rice (ewwwww!) for their Board of Directors, did you know @Dropbox costs 4x more than Google Drive for 500GB?

    Sign the petition and Drop Dropbox now: http://chn.ge/1iExYQW [chn.ge]

    And check out #DropDropbox

    https://support.google.com/dri... [google.com]
  • Protest raises awareness, but it does not force change.

    Companies only change when you threaten their bottom line. Boycott forces change. You protest to raise awareness, and then you switch to boycott.

    In the case of Mozilla, OKCupid not working for Firefox was what did it. People were starting to not use Firefox, and that couldn't stand. So, out went Eich... A good example of this is the bus boycotts in the south during the 60's. Thousands of people stopped taking buses, stopped PAYING, and change happen

The meat is rotten, but the booze is holding out. Computer translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."

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