by Blaise Alleyne

Filed Under:
protest, social networks, uk

UK Online Protest Finds Success In Just 48 Hours

from the it's-a-bird,-it's-a-plane,-it's-a...-Facebook-protest? dept

Using social networking tools to organize political protests is nothing new or surprising, but online protests have been growing increasingly efficient, especially on Facebook. In Canada, for example, a group protesting copyright legislation caught the attention of federal parliament last summer, and another opposing strict restrictions on young drivers had the Ontario Premier considering Facebook consultations in the fall.

The latest story comes from the UK where, in a mere 48 hours, a campaign run through Facebook and TheyWorkForYou.com by mysociety.org helped stop legislation that would have exempted MPs' expenses from the Freedom of Information Act (via the Search Engine). Thousands of emails were sent in the two day period, reaching 90% of MPs, before the opposition parties turned and the government backed down. It's not so much the scale that's worth noting, but the sheer speed at which the campaign was successful. The legislation was scrapped before most snail mail would have had time to arrive. Now, the online protest likely wasn't the only factor, but it played an important role in spreading the message. It seems to be getting a lot harder to sneak stuff through the legislature (though that doesn't stop people from trying) when it only takes a couple days to build an opposition.

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  • identicon
    Cunky Vomit, 28 Jan 2009 @ 11:02pm

    Great. Way to encourage more of those "million strong" for whatever groups I keep getting invitations to.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jan 2009 @ 1:31am

    reinforcing democracy

    if i remember correctly, in my political science class when the subject of democracy came up, our teacher introduced it with:

    government of the people, by the people, for the people.

    and i think with time the internet will reinforce that more and more.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    shaman, 29 Jan 2009 @ 1:37am

    This type of protest has proven effective, and will continue to gain strength, as more people become aware of it's power. Paul Wolfowitz of the World Bank, was forced to resign, in part, by a similar protest organized by the following: http://avaaz.org

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Esteban El Guapo, 29 Jan 2009 @ 2:55am

    Facebook Toppled Icelandic Gov.

    Facebook was mostly used to organize the Icelandic protests that brought down the conservative government: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=64832322664

    I'm proud to have taken part in a mostly nonviolent protest that actually accomplished something, rather than pursuing my usual wont of flaming and ranting online to no effect.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Alex, 29 Jan 2009 @ 10:04am

    I'm from the UK (I'm actually doing a politics degree) and I have to say you have this story completely backwards.

    Labour was the only (major) party which actually supported this proposal, and they were facing significant rebellion. They could have relied on Conservative (main opposition) support to force the motion through parliament, but the Conservative leader changed his mind at the last minute to embarrass Labour.

    This was pure politics, it had nothing to do with "web protests". It didn't even have anything to do with the proposal, really.

    I've noticed you're getting this a lot recently - CHECK YOUR SOURCES

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Blaise Alleyne (profile), 29 Jan 2009 @ 1:53pm


      From the BBC article, the Labour party was at least under the impression that it had support from the Lib Dems before they took a strong stand against it. (Brown: "Recently that support that we believed we had from the main opposition party was withdrawn.") Maybe it was a mistake for Labour to believe that? But it certainly seems like mysociety.org's campaign played a role in generating awareness and contributing to the back down.

      But, like I mentioned, it played a role, but I'd be surprised if it were the only factor.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Alex, 29 Jan 2009 @ 2:32pm

        Re: Re:

        The main opposition party is the Conservatives. The lib-dems have been steadfastly against this proposal since its inception

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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