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This is the sixth in a series of short articles that are intended to help grassroots activists better utilize social media websites. These are the definitive and comprehensive guides for progressives. Every week after the Intro, there will be a new guide published about how to more effectively use Reddit, Digg, StumbleUpon, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Other Sites, and on Advanced Strategies.

Facebook (FB) is the largest social networking website in the history of mankind.  There are over 800 million users, while its once great rival MySpace is down to 130 million and falling.  With a community this large, it is extremely important to focus in on the key groups and not get distracted by all the noise to have a sharp impact.


To be influential on FB as a progressive internet activist, you need to establish a good rapport with key members of the community, be interactive, and have good connections in active political groups.  This takes time.  While the official policy requires people to use their real name, enforcement of this has been relaxed so some anonymity conscience folks use their activist callsign or a fake names that sound real.  Either way, your actions will determine your influence far more than anything else.


A quick word of warning before we continue here.  FB is notorious for snooping into your personal information and sharing that outside the site.  FB has made a deal with the FTC where they have promised to cease this and submit to external audits but take that as you will.  Also note that while you can use a proxy for a limited amount of protection, strong anonymity programs like TOR will set off a “suspicious IP” alert on FB, requiring some tedious steps to log in every single time.  If you use Chrome, install the Facebook Disconnect extension.  In any case, spend some time customizing your privacy settings and create a personalized url for your profile page.  FB has also just had the largest IPO in history, and how this will affect privacy and the site in general in the future is yet to be determined.

General Strategies
Fleshing out your Info page is a great way to start.  Fill in the blanks, demonstrate your interests and passions, put in your profiles for other social media sites in the Websites section, show that you are not a robot.  Start to add other progressives to your friends list right away (list of starters below), but do so at a steady pace (no more than 20 per day on average).  If you try to add too many too quickly, disciplinary action could be taken.  FB limits you to 5000 followers (you can turn yourself into a 'page' after that if you wish), but it will take a year to reach this many quality folks, so don't cross this bridge until you come to it.  Group your new friends into lists as you go depending on their primary interest.


Expanding your influence requires a legitimate presence and knowing where to focus your efforts.  There is a lot of room for expansion here, but as always, the quality of your content is more important than the quantity of your posts.  Hit the 'like' button on other people's posts and comments liberally, but note that more than ~500 likes per day can trigger a temporary disabling of the 'like' feature.  Visit various pages and groups (below) everyday and contribute.  Use FB on the go with the brilliantly designed Facebook mobile app.


When posting status updates on your wall, there is a certain weight that the site puts on it depending on where it was posted from.  Things posted from Facebook itself have a heavier weight (and thus will make the rounds better) than those posted on FB by other means (like Shareaholic, Hootsuite, Disqus, etc.).  This is probably a worthy sacrifice considering the time that can be saved by using those tools, but for really important posts, keep this in mind and post directly from Facebook itself.

Pages and Groups
With a community this large, finding progressive pages and groups is not the problem.  The difficulty is in deciding which ones to expend your precious time and energy.  Clicking 'like' on a couple hundred pages is a good starting point.  This is the best compilation of pages on Facebook, they are a focal point of other folks' efforts to push real change and reform in an organized fashion, and an excellent source of content discovery.  Also note that the Facebook rules only allow one profile, and some folks may chose to just create a page in which to conduct their activism.  While you can still interact with other pages this way, the downside is that you lose a lot of functionality in terms of being able to seek out and connect with actual individuals.


Groups differ from pages in that there is more of an emphasis on group interactivity.  Many are open (anyone can join), but they tend to attract trolls that stifle real conversation.  Closed groups require asking to join, but have far better quality discussions.  You will eventually find some secret groups (unlisted, requires an invite) that have the most honest, in depth conversations.  It is usually a good idea to turn off notifications and chat on all but the most intimate groups to avoid being pestered.  A few select groups to get you started:


#Occupy For Democrats Only
Raging Liberals
Enhanced Reasons
DRD4 dopamine fiends
PowerPlay Forum
The People's Task Force
The Lunatic Lounge
Kick Butt Liberals
Proud to be Filthy Liberal Scum
Liberal Atheist Politics
Intellectually Promiscuous Progressives
P.A.R.R. - 12 Progressive Action to Remove Republicans


Commenting
Participating in the FB community requires commenting if you wish to have any real sway.  Posting links is fine, but without interaction, your broadcasts will soon fall upon deaf ears.  Locate other strong progressives of various causes by their comments.  Ignore or block all trolls.  They are never worth your time.


Feel free to speak your mind on Facebook, but take note that the right wing has openly declared political warfare there (like what they did on YouTube a few years ago), and will use every dirty trick in the book to silence progressive voices.  If you post any 'questionable' content or comments, they will mass report you.  Sometimes they mass report left-leaning folks who haven't even posted anything remotely objectionable, which can cause remote-controlled disciplinary actions by Facebook.  Don't let this discourage you from speaking out, just recognize if you start to get attacked, you must be hitting a nerve, and double down on what you're doing.

Top Progressive FB Users
With a community 800 million strong, assembling the very top progressive users is an impossible task, but the list below is full of solid activists, and should get you started.


Julie Driscoll
Steve Elliott
Dust Circle
Midge Hough
Cindy Sheehan
Jesse LaGreca
Zach Oberhausen
Bill Demers
Amanda Terkel
Bob Cesca
Carrie Worthen
Andrew Porter
Anomaly OneHundred
Nick Espinosa
April Lukes-Streich
Asa Dodsworth
Clare Tremper
Chris Morrow
Dale West
Daniel Cox
Deborah Megivern Foster
Dee Austin
Douglas Rivlin
Gilbert Mercier
Herdon Katz
Gotta L. Aff
Ilyse Hogue
Janine Wallace
Jason Easley
Albert DeAscentis
Jason Leopold
John Equality Geiger
John Graziano
John P. Boyle
Josh Harkinson
Joshua Oakley
Karoli Kuns
Liam Fox
Margaret Flowers
Ray Medeiros
Robin Eublind
Sarah Jones
Shannyn Moore
David Noyes
Sheryl Fletcher
Terri Lee
Wes Forster

Originally posted to novenator on Wed Mar 07, 2012 at 07:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  comments, questions, clarifications? (6+ / 0-)

    Ask away.  I'm here to help.

    If you have progressively oriented friends who want to get more involved in social media activism, make sure they get a copy of this too.  These guides are specifically geared towards left wing activists and are the culmination of 4 years of study and experience.

    Bold Progressive. Deal with it.

    by novenator on Wed Mar 07, 2012 at 10:25:35 AM PST

    •  Well done! (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      novenator, sb, forbodyandmind, nomandates

      I've joined several of the pages in your article since reading it. Thank you for the tips. I don't know who that with Anomaly is but the rest seem pretty cool;-)

      Progressive who resides on the Internetz.

      by Anomaly100 on Wed Mar 07, 2012 at 10:38:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I have a question and I'm glad I get to ask it (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sb, Lujane, nomandates

      because FB frustrated me yesterday. What page does everyone see, the one under my name or under 'home' ?
      Because the latter is where I see all the other posts and yesterday I tried to get a post on the 'home' page while it was only showing up under the link to my name (timeline) where there is NO interaction.

      Btw thanks for putting up this diary I already have many of the links you listed but maybe you can add Bellingham's occupy site http://www.occupybellinghamwa.org/...

      without the ants the rainforest dies

      by aliasalias on Wed Mar 07, 2012 at 11:46:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  people see your wall (5+ / 0-)

        This is your posts, not your Home.  Your Home is only for you to see, it is a feed of posts from others and yourself if you post an update.  When people look you up personally, they see your wall (often in timeline form now).

        Thanks for keeping #OccupyBellingham going.  The American Spring is indeed coming, and it's nice to have established networks already there to facilitate this.

        Bold Progressive. Deal with it.

        by novenator on Wed Mar 07, 2012 at 02:02:07 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  thnx, I wasted a LOT of time yesterday trying (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sb, Lujane, nomandates

          to get something on the wrong wall ;-p.
          Now I have to go clean it up because the same articles got posted several times as I tried putting them on the other 'wall'.
          Maybe I can use my age as excuse but there are other people over 60 handling it real well afaik.

          About the Bellingham site, I got the (right) address last nite from someone I recognized from the occupy site and he informed me their site had been hijacked by a site 'close' to it in name. That's why he emphasized adding the 'wa' after occupybellingham because that's how the site that wasn't representing B'ham was getting links.
          In fact that's what I had done, and why I was asking the guy about there being nothing about meetings or actions on the site.

          I agree that this is gonna be one an American Spring, and one I expect will clearly define which side people really are on, the 99% or the 1%.

          without the ants the rainforest dies

          by aliasalias on Wed Mar 07, 2012 at 02:24:12 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Good work. Much needed by us old farts... (7+ / 0-)

      ...especially. (At least some of us.)

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Wed Mar 07, 2012 at 02:26:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Keep your privacy in mind there (8+ / 0-)

    Everything you say can and will be used against you, and most things you say will be visible to people you're not thinking about. You may not even remember all the people you've friended or know the person behind the business you Liked, and that's even if you've locked down your stuff to Friends only. Future employers will look at your public profile.

    It's certainly a place where information spreads far and wide. Used carefully, you can get a lot of attention for your particular cause. But be careful not to turn people off, too: know your audience, and create your own grouping to send information that fits it. So if you're mentioning local issues, you can make a grouping of people local to you and send the message only to them.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Wed Mar 07, 2012 at 11:23:07 AM PST

    •  Excellent advice elfling (5+ / 0-)

      It should be noted that while it is against FB policy, I have seen a lot of activists (left, right, libertarian, authoritarian) use multiple FB accounts to protect their real world identity.  Not that I would ever condone such a thing, just saying that some people do that to stay more anonymous online.  

      In general, folks should be cautious about what they post.  I'm brash and outspoken, so people have come to expect to hear some pretty heavy-hitting and NSFW things from me, but I don't really give a shit if folks follow/friend me or not.  Others might want to walk a bit more softly (but remember to carry your big stick!).

      Bold Progressive. Deal with it.

      by novenator on Wed Mar 07, 2012 at 02:06:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Also keep in mind: if your employer (6+ / 0-)

    Has a social media policy, you may be limited in what you can post on sites like Facebook.  

    Some drink deeply from the river of knowledge. Others only gargle. -- Woody Allen

    by cassandracarolina on Wed Mar 07, 2012 at 12:38:14 PM PST

    •  relevant article (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sb, Lujane, nomandates, divineorder

      You are 100% correct, and it gets worse:
      Employers Asking Applicants for Facebook Passwords http://www.pcmag.com/...

      While I certainly believe this is unconstitutional and an invasion of privacy, this "corporations can do no wrong" culture we live in (in terms of the legal framework) may do this.  

      Many folks could hypothetically get around this by having multiple FB accounts (an "official" personal one, and a real personal one for instance), although that would violate FB rules, and I could never advocate that.  Just saying I've seen it done many, many times.

      Either way, just beware of what you post online.

      Bold Progressive. Deal with it.

      by novenator on Wed Mar 07, 2012 at 02:11:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Feel free to Friend me (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Purple Priestess, Lujane

    I'm fairly active on FB, and often make comments.  If I go to an event, I tend to take pictures (such as the recent DFL Spaghetti Dinner for MN Sen. District 62).  You can tag yourselves and others.

    The secret to social networks is the networking.

    "What doesn't have credibility today is the truth." -- Bill Moyers, The Daily Show 6/22/05

    by Baron Dave on Wed Mar 07, 2012 at 03:04:59 PM PST

  •  as most people have started out their FB (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lujane

    pages as a means to connect to their family and friends and posted mostly private stuff, they might have a hard time to "change the purpose" of their FB page later on without actually not using the page at all. And once people start to rely for their communication on FB they can't get rid of the habit.

    I personally won't use it. I can't stand the young guy who founded FB to be honest (I had to archive and listen to a lot of interviews he gave and my impression is that doesn't deserve my respect or admiration).

    FB has done lots of damages to people that is not reported, because most of the damage that happens is too personal to talk about it.

    I like twitter better.

    •  Like most very young founders of successful (0+ / 0-)

      tech firms, he strikes me as being a superficially very charming, very intelligent, largely amoral, and quite immature person who's basically in it for the intellectual challenge, ego trip, and money (I suspect that traditional power isn't that big a deal to them), with the societal and personal implications of their actions being mostly ignored or seen as irrelevant.

      They're basically brilliant tech-oriented libertarians who see themselves as being apart from the rest of society. Which doesn't necessarily make them "bad", but does make them potentially dangerous, because they're largely unaware of the implications of their actions, which could potentially be quite major and even harmful, nor do they appear to care that much, or worse, be capable of caring.

      We need such people in society, but we also have to be on guard with them.

      "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

      by kovie on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 12:09:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  My problem with using a site like FB (0+ / 0-)

    for activism is that it makes it impossible to separate one's personal and activist lives on it. I suppose that for some people this isn't a problem, but for many if not most people, it is. I guess that this is what closed groups and such are for, but maybe I don't want my friends and relatives and other FB "friends" to know what I'm up to in other aspects of my life. And maybe I don't want my activist "friends" snooping into my personal life. And maybe I don't want current or prospective employers knowing about either, since it's none of their business and has nothing to do with my current and future job performance.

    Eventually all of these issues will sort themselves out, but in the meantime, I'm not interested in being a social media guinea pig. There are other ways to get involved and make a difference--and to have "friends".

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 12:00:44 PM PST

  •  Thanks for this series (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Regina in a Sears Kit House

    I'd love to have folks join me in discussion on a new facebook page I created: Let's Talk Politics. I literally just created it yesterday, so I'm talking to myself so far. But I have hopes it will grow quickly. Otherwise I might find myself in a fitting for an attractive white jacket with buckles and wrap-around sleeves. :'(

    To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men. Abraham Lincoln

    by forbodyandmind on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 05:08:31 PM PST

  •  Thanks, nova, gonna hit your links!!! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    2thanks

    FLUSH RUSH!!!!!

    Please sign the White House petition to Flush Rush from AFN (Armed Forces Network).

    by OleHippieChick on Mon Mar 12, 2012 at 09:09:20 AM PDT

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