Something that really needs to stop is otherwise respectable news outlets running stories that include a line similar to “A Facebook group has started and currently has XXXX members”. This is a totally invalid measure of the support for a topic or group or ANYTHING! In the last few weeks we have all heard about the group that wants to have a public inquiry into how the police handled the security at the G20 summit. This quote is from a QMI Agency story that ran on July 9th.
“Almost 60,000 people have taken to Facebook to demand a full public inquiry into Toronto police action at the G20 Summit last month.”
Oh WOW! You mean to say that 60,000 people are SO enraged about this situation that they spent 4.76 seconds to join a Facebook group? That really gets the point across. Joining a Facebook group is exactly the type of protest that everyone loves. The people love it because they don’t actually have to spend any money, time or effort of any kind to feel like they are fighting the man. The government loves it for similar reasons. People all feel like they are doing something and the government can basically ignore it and it costs them nothing to control. So I guess it’s good for everyone right? The problem is of course is that the cause is left in limbo.
I am using the G20 inquiry for this example but really we can say the same thing about any similar group. We cannot use the number of people in a Facebook group to gauge the number of people that REALLY want an inquiry because there is nothing behind the click. Just a click and boom you are done. How about this? Set up a paypal account and have a Facebook group that requires you to donate cash to join. Something like $10 each minimum but as much as you want to give is fine. NOW when you get 60,000 users you have at least $600,000 to spend on lobbyists or a legal team that could actually go to Ottawa and start forcing the issue. The other nice thing about this is that you know you have 60,000 people that are willing to give up at least one hour’s work at minimum wage to support the cause. I am guessing that there is a large difference between the number of people that are single click outraged and the number of people that are $10 outraged.