A huge chunk of the world uses some aspect of Facebook, from the website that started it all to Facebook Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp, or even Oculus. Indeed, the rise of social media overall has rapidly changed our world, whether that be through viral campaigns, connecting people across the world, or rapidly disseminating information. Certainly, the free speech enabled on these platforms has the potential to generate harm. However, I’m more interested in examining, as the title suggests, Facebook as a force for social good.
Over a billion people use Facebook; even on the personal level, your friends and friends of friends alone can reach staggering numbers. This allows for a whole variety of news and social issues to be disseminated, even if traditional local and national media fail to mention them. From posting on a college group to figure out who’s lost keys you found to organizing large-scale movements, Facebook has positioned itself as a leader in world events.
Some people have derided forms of support that has obtained the moniker “slacktivism”, such as changing one’s profile picture in solidarity with France, or liking a post lampooning an environmentally-damaging corporation, instead of marching and demanding change. The truth of the matter is that for any large movement, there are always a group of activists who are “hardcore”: they are the ones sleeping in tents, arrested for small acts of civil disobedience, and organizing more events to get their message across. What makes the social impact using Facebook so valuable is that each little positive show of solidarity, in the aggregate, has the potential to create a large impact on a cause. Certainly, sharing a video from a war zone is nothing compared to the person who risked life and limb to obtain it; however, when millions of people bring this video to the forefront of society, they are each contributing to the betterment of society.