Protesting via Facebook

I noticed this on Facebook today. Following the Mumbai attacks, people are going around tagging friends in photos of the mishap taken off the internet. Someone has put the images all up on a Facebook album that is open to public view, and is encouraging everyone to tag friends as a sign of ‘protest against terrorism’. I read recently of marketing spam on Facebook in exactly the same vein. 

I don’t know how much actual change an act like this will achieve. But the more I think about it, the more I realise that this act – like becoming a ‘fan’ of something on Facebook – is merely an expression of emotion. You become a fan of something if you like it. The people who are tagging friends, similarly, are doing it to show support for the National Security Guards and police, anger and sadness about the death and destruction caused, and frustration with the administration. If it is picked up by the Indian media, for example, the people who are part of this will actually have had some sort of impact. If it isn’t picked up by the media, then it remains a form of protest. A digital protest. And any protest against an atrocity is a sign of an active, thinking society, which is important, and in a democracy like India even more so.

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