Facebook became cultural event after
Does it matter whether Facebook is a cultural event (like pop music) or a technology? Yes it does.
Popular music and youth culture has always existed in a state of tension between a mainstream, corporate, proﬁt-oriented industry and a more independent avant garde culture.
The tension, and the music, needs to be continually renewed, as each generation rejects the mainstream music of its forebears to create new sounds and events of its own.
If Facebook is a technology that delivers democracy, then we can trust it: more of it can only lead to more democracy. But if Facebook is a cultural phenomenon, then its meaning and role will change as it becomes mainstream
- We need to treat it like we treat the record companies, the mainstream media, and our phone companies. Necessary, but not to be trusted.
A diﬀerence in the case of
is that while major record companies may have been large commercial organizations, there were at least several of them. The tendency of information technologies to lead to monopoly means that there’s only one Facebook, so there is more confusion between Facebook (the place where people meet) and Facebook Egypt
But Facebook The Company is a record label, not a musician. It is not surprising to see the poor response of Facebook to the needs of Egyptian protesters:
“Simon Axten, of Facebook’s public policy team, said that the ‘real name culture’ was an essential element of the social networking platform.
However, the policy has also been blamed for making it easy for oppressive regimes to roll up networks of dissidents who use Facebook to communicate.”
Otherwise Alexis Madrigal said “The Inside Story of How Facebook Responded to
Tunisian Hacks”, Jan 24, 2011 in The
“We get requests all the time in a few diﬀerent contexts where people would like to impersonate someone else. Police wanting to go undercover or human rights activists, say,”
Facebook’s Chief Security Oﬃcer Joe Sullivan said. “And we, just based on our core mission and core product, don’t want to allow that. That’s just not what Facebook is. Facebook is a place where people connect with real people in their lives using their real identities.”
If your needs don’t match Facebook’s “core product”, you’re out of luck.
In Conclusion Facebook, the social networking site, has clearly played an important part in
’s protests. But it’s played a role as a cultural space for a generation, not as a distinctive technology. If Facebook wasn’t there, some other medium may well have played the same cultural role, as has happened in the past (the global rash of student protests in 1968, the velvet revolutions). Egypt
In the same way that protesters of previous generations used whatever media they had at hand to carry their message, acting both alongside and against the media in many cases, so today’s social movements need to both use their advantage with new media, while retaining a healthy skepticism about the commercial nature of the medium itself.
It’s ﬁne for a generation to feel ownership of their cultural space, in the same way that other generations have felt ownership of popular music. But they need to keep a clear distinction between what it is they like and the corporation that provides it. Just as youth culture has always had a love-hate role with the music industry, so today’s youth need to develop a healthy scepticism - make that cynicism - about the owners of their generational space.
Any how thanks facebook to support our revolution in