They used to call it “slacktivism” — the business of people taking up social and political issues on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. The term was used to describe armchair protests, petitions, status messages and heated conservations on the Internet by activists whose work was considered worthless.
As Gandhian Anna Hazare’s movement, India Against Corruption, saw street protests for which tens of thousands of people converged across cities last week, it became clear that online media, petitions and conversations could dramatically increase the pitch, ease and speed of communications and logistics and build up support for social movements.
The Arab Spring in Egypt was centred around Facebook and Molodava saw a “Twitter Revolution” when activists used the microblogging site to organise themselves. On a TV discussion this year, I had said, “Twitter is the new parliament. Facebook is the new café.” You can get an idea of it now by trawling these sites.
Consider the following numbers from an HT report in the middle of last week.
There are over 500 Facebook groups and 25 Twitter handles in Anna Hazare’s support Team Anna’s Twitter handle, Janlokpal, has over 35,000 followers
India Against Corruption (IAC), has more than 300,000 ‘likes’ on its Facebook page and 13 million missed calls in support in a special number for the purpose.
The events in Delhi and other Indian cities confirmed that what began in Molodava spread to the Arab world and arrived in India last week. This time, it is better to call it online-offline activism.