Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) is considered a pioneer in the social-media, Web 2.0 area of the Web universe, but some recent stories have provided Facebook with the the opportunity to be the “social” in social media. Whether it’s from its own in-house actions or from the work of users, when it comes to social issues, Facebook has made its claim as the service of choice in promoting social concerns. This seems to be in line with what CEO Mark Zuckerberg has essentially said in regards to his company – that it is there to change the world and how it interacts, and is not necessarily about money.
A couple of examples of Facebook Inc. (NASXAQ:FB) and its influence in social movements and society in general have been in the news recently. One story takes us to Iran, where Facebook has been a vital tool for those who have been fighting the political battle against Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. After the disputed 2009 presidential election, Facebook was used as a vehicle to disseminate news and information about the various protests around the country. It was so effective, in fact, that Iran’s regime called Facebook a “weapon” in a “soft war” against the Islamic regime.
And this week, Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) has been prominent in the country again, providing information and calls to action for residents responding to the recent earthquake there that killed 300 and left thousands homeless. Though Facebook is “blocked” by the Iranian government through a variety of proxy servers – due to its influence in the protests of 2009 – many users and reporters are working their way through the firewalls to create pages that give on-site updates from the earthquake zone, and one page – Female Equals Male – had several posts encouraging residents in the country to donate blood for depleted blood banks. With 140,000 followers, the page was effective – several reports had blood-donation stations with lines until well after midnight the day of the earthquake , with people looking to give blood.
One poster wrote, “I work for one of the blood-transfusion centers in Tehran. And I can say it was the first time that I have ever seen people being so eager to donate blood. It has always been us, pushing, advertising and asking people to do so.”
In another story regarding social impact, Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) dropped its internal censorship in favor of a free and open Internet when it reversed its prior decision and allowed Just Say Now to show ads on Facebook touting its marijuana-legalization campaign – ads which showed photos of the leafy plant. When the group first tried showing the ads in 2010, Facebook took them down after about a week. When the group came back in 2012 with a new batch of ads, Facebook didn’t let them see the light of day. However, after about 15,000 supporters signed an online petition and a couple of free-speech advocacy groups got involved, Facebook decided to allow the new batch of ads, which the Just Say Now group is using to fight in favor of legalizing marijuana, where ballot measures are being considered in six states in November.