The next step in looking at advocacy online: Facebook creeping

So I thought it would a fun and informative to explore a little deeper the type of member that Amnesty International and Rock the Vote attract online. My methods are by no means scientific or truly representative, thought that would be ideal. Sadly, I just don’t have the means to look at all 32,633 members of the Amnesty International Facebook group or all 301,671 followers on Twitter. I did, however, look at around 30 profiles and a few twitter followers, though Twitter profiles aren’t nearly as informative to the demographics and interests of people. The rise of popularity in privacy controls on Facebook limited a lot of what I could see unfortunately. So who are AI members? Here’s what I found:

Age: There is a wide age range. The oldest person I came across was 68…not too old…but old for Facebook 🙂

Religious views: Everything from Christian to Agnostic to “mind your business”.

Political views: Again quite a variety here. A lot of people didn’t share this information with non-friends. But some interesting ones I found were “all are equal” and “socialist capitalist cynic”.

Interests: All over the place, but often included similar organizations or “activist-minded” activities like the outdoors, Green Peace, staying healthy, and “dancing to the beat of my own drum”.

From: Everywhere! Made me want to do some traveling. Here were some good ones:  India, Spain, Greece, Belgium, Germany, France, Japan, Ireland. Amnesty clearly has an international reach.

Rock the Vote also has a diverse group of members, but is more concentrated on what might come to mind when you visualize activists. That is, there seems to be a greater concentration of young, university students. The organization is aimed at motivating our generation to participate in politics so this makes sense. Also, given it is a national organization, the vast majority of members on the Facebook page are from the United States.

Domestic Abuse Intervention Services Facebook members were largely from Madison, WI and surrounding areas. There were a few people from neighboring states, like MN and IL, often having some association with Madison, like being a UW alumni. This makes since, as it is a local organization. Another non-surprising trend given the topic of interest is the larger concentration of female members. Males still have a strong presence though.

While lacking in scientific quality, my profiling of these groups members gave me a better idea of the diversity of people involved in the organzations, but also how their membership make-ups differ from each other based on their reach and message.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN WEEKEND EVERYONE!

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Update on political/ social advocacy online…

So…I am still finding myself having a hard time engaging actively with my chosen advocacy groups online. I have continued to reply to news posted on twitter or facebook, and “like” things now and then and what not, but like I said before, the community aspect of providing engaged feedback is somewhat missing so my interactions remain largely at the surface. After my attempts to reach out on Rock the Vote and Amnesty International’s Facebook pages (by disclosing that I was working on a project and would love to know how the organization and its’ members used the Internet to organize and connect) were denied, as they both immediately deleted my posts, I was discouraged about my ability to gather information on their internet use directly. Yesterday, I contacted via email both organizations, as well as Domestic Abuse Intervention Services, the smaller local organization I have mentioned. Amnesty International directed me to their international secretariat. I also emailed their U.S. organization. This is what I said to Amesty International:

“Hello-

My name is Katherine Thibeau. I am a senior at the University of Wisconsin- Madison. For my communications class titled “Critical Internet Studies” I am doing a project on advocacy groups and their use of the Internet. I selected Amnesty International both for its personal appeal and worldwide recognition. I was wondering if you could help me, or help me to get in contact with someone, who could offer some insight into the ways that Amnesty International uses the internet (including social media, twitter, the website, email etc.) to communicate, organize and connect with its’ members. I realize that your organization has higher priorities than this, but I believe that your information would elevate my project/ presentation and potentially motivate eager college students to join AI or reinstate the UW- Madison chapter.

Thank you in advance for your help!”

My other emails were very similar… I am skeptical about the likelihood that I will here back from Amnesty International and Rock the Vote as they are both very large organizations. I am optimistic that Domestic Abuse Intervention Services will get back to me because they are local here in Madison and I pointed out that my presentation would bring more awareness to the group.

I really do hope that I hear back from the organizations, and that my attempts to dig deeper aren’t rebuffed once again. While I can certainly make inferences about how these organizations use the website based on my own observations and knowledge about how organizatoins in general use the internet, their direct input would provide more credibility and specificity to my understanding. I’ll let you know if I hear back! I’ll be posted again soon “profiling” members of Amnesty International, as well as posting prior to my presentation on wednesday.