These are the number of fans each has on Facebook. I know it’s hard to believe, but Sarah Palin has more than a million and a half and Bill Moyers, whose last show aired this week, has fewer than 5,000 people who have clicked “I Like” on his Facebook fan page!!
So what does this mean and why should we care?
Well, millions of people around the world are using Facebook and other social networks to communicate in a variety of ways. But one way,in particular, is the focus of this message.
Not everyone is cut out to be a community organizer or a grassroots activist. Most people don’t have the time or the inclination to pass out fliers or start a website or even write a letter to their congressional representative. But the Internet has given us fascinating new tools to create community and exercise power online.
The jury is still out on how effective these new mechanisms will be, but it’s worth noting that one of the first things Sarah Palin did after resigning as governor was to set up a Facebook page. Today, we’re asking you to participate in a survey that will help us to better understand how you use new media to exercize your political muscle. . .
There are many striking differences between the Progressive movement and the Tea Party Movement, but one of the most striking is corporate funding or, in the case of the progressives, the lack of it. However, like in the early sixties when television changed the rules of the game for politicians, the internet and social media are having a similar impact today.
Without on-line participation and donations, President Obama would likely still be the junior senator from Illinois. We are seeing more political pundits hailing from on-line publications such as the Huffington Post or Talking Points Memo. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the internet has the power to level the playing field in many domains but we have to use the tools that have been placed before us to make that happen.
Corporate power and influence continues to grow not just domestically but globally. Today, corporations control mainstream media. Many believe corporate power has taken over our government. The recent Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC gives corporations freedoms historically reserved for the people.
In the Death and Life of American Journalism, authors Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols argue that “the problem is rooted in the longstanding tension between advertising-supported, profit-making media and democracy sustaining journalism”. Without a crystal ball, it’s hard to know where we are heading but, if we believe in the lessons history can teach us, we know that democracy is unsustainable without an informed citizenry and journalism that puts a spotlight on the powerful.
Social media and sharing information on-line may be one of the few options available to the citizenry to combat the power of the corporations. Let’s use it.