A Global Tour of Online Protests

Image: Online Protest in CubaWhere have all the protests gone? Many of the most interesting and successful are making creative use of new online environments.

  • IBM workers gained salary increases through a Second Life protest.
  • Over a million Colombians mobilized through a Facebook group.
  • American students built a Virtual Guantánamo detention facility in Second Life.
  • China repealed Internet limitations after a virtual mass suicide of online game characters.

Come see some noteworthy online protests and services that are popping up to support the virtual life of real movements.

Second Life Strike Against IBM
image: virtual IBM strikerRappresentanza Sindacale Unitaria IBM Vimercate (RSU), the official trade union representing IBM’s 9,000 workers in Italy, undertook a novel form of industrial action – a strike on Second Life.

IBM has a large Second Life presence, in which 2,000 characters in protest shirts, carrying signs, picketed. The result was a change in a salary increase policy for employees in Italy and an award from the French Senate.

Facebook group mobilizes millions in anti-FARC march
When Oscar Morales, an engineer from Barranquilla, Colombia, and five friends launched a Facebook group called No More FARC, they didn’t expect to create a movement.Image: No More FARC rally

But within 30 days, their Facebook group’s 250,000 members mobilized millions of protesters.  More than 4 million Colombians marched simultaneously in 27 cities throughout the country and 104 major cities around the world, shouting “No more kidnappings! No more lies! No more deaths! No more FARC!”  Read the full story here.

Image: flag in cargo planeVirtual Guantánamo
Seton Hall University School of Law and and the University of Southern California’s Institute for Media Literacy have used Second Life as a platform to raise public awareness of US detention policies.  You can take a video tour of the center on YouTube. While this is framed as educational, it’s pretty clearly education in the service of advocacy.

Mass Virtual Suicide in China to Protest Game Limitations
Wired magazine reports that a group of World of Warcraft players in China committed virtual mass suicide. They wanted to draw attention to the latest restriction on their liberty: The same government agency that censors newspapers and bans books had just mandated a system of disincentives to limit the number of hours per day they spent playing online games. Within four months, the government’s restrictions on game time were lifted.

Reporters Without Borders Has Freedom of Speech Day (sort of)
Image: Online Protest in CubaSpeech Day would have been far more convincing if demonstrators were enabled to express their own ideas, rather than select approved statements. After all, isn’t that what free speech is really about? That said, over 21,000 visitors held virtual signs over 24 hours to protest the imprisonment of 62 web journalists and citizens punished for online postings. The site enabled visitors to pick from a set of predetermined slogans, to hold a virtual sign, and to move through an audience to see the names and locations of others.

Online Protest Resources

Web sites such as PetitionOnline.com allow anyone to create and manage a petition on the Web for free. They’ve collected 64 million signatures.  As their success stories suggest, online grass-roots politics can persuade powerful players to change their tune.

This site provides how-to advice and consulting to encourage online advocacy. They discuss online advocacy and online politics broadly and as a craft, focusing on what methods work and when, without selling a particular product or consultancy. If you want to know how to use text messages, email, RSS, and video to raise and manage a protest, this could be your online manual.

9 Responses to "A Global Tour of Online Protests"

  • Rogue Macros

    July 17, 2010

    Wow, “Mass Virtual Suicide in China to Protest Game Limitations”. This is something. I can understand wanting something pretty bad, but suicide? Not sold on that concept. I’m sure there aren’t many options to get attention. This has certainly got mine. I know this was a while back, has anything changed for them yet on this front?

  • David Rogers

    December 10, 2010

    Good examples, Dave. Second Life is a fairly niche platform, but significant for IBM internal audience, so it’s interesting to hear about the RSU protest.

    The importance of digital organizing to recent protests is the subject of much debate right now: central? peripheral? something else? I wrote on some of the competing evidence here:

    In my book, I examine how and why the 2008 Obama campaign was much more effective in using online tools to mobilize supporters in a way that impacted election results, compared with other efforts at online political organizing. http://thenetworkisyourcustomer

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  • Game Titan

    October 28, 2011

    While looking for new games for the Wii, I discovered that Nintendo was creating the Wii U. I was excited at first since the Wii is awesome and now a better version was coming out. Unfortunately my enthusiasm for the new Wii U dropped after having discovered that the Wii U will not be backwards compatible with Game Cube games. This means we will not be able to play any of our older favorite games on the new system, or in order to play them we may have to pay to download them.
    Does anybody else feel the same? Why? We need to hammer the Nintendo web site with complaints about the lack of backwards compatibility.
    Here is the address to send your protest about this stupid move on their part: http://www.nintendo.com/consumer/webform.jsp

  • game of war fire age

    March 4, 2015

    At the same time as the Sega Master System was released, so was the Atari 1000.
    The open world nature meant a storyline with missions and freedom to roam in between (like
    GTA). It’s basically a game where you can do pretty much anything you want to with the car you’re driving.

  • summoners war astuce

    March 14, 2015

    ?ow ? am going to ?o my breakfast, afterward h?ving my breakfast coming again to ?ead additional news.

  • Elvia

    April 14, 2015

    Hi there, after reading this amazing article i am also glad to share my experience here with colleagues.

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