Friends, Freedom and Facebook

I have been a fan of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy for a long time, but it was not official until I decided to friend them on facebook! Facebook has millions of users and has changed the way people communicate, advertise and share their thoughts.

Facebook is the dominant social network in most countries, but what you may not know is that there are several exceptions. These are mainly autocratic states.  Though facebook is not officially blocked in any country, there are measures put in place in many stricter countries like Iran and China, who offer alternative social networks which are more censored. This caution is because facebook is more than just a place to write about what you had for dinner or see pictures of a friend’s new puppy. It is a place where you can link to breaking news, have discussions and freely state your opinion on issues. The traffic of friends reading and referencing their friends’ facebook pages can cause stories, good or bad, to spread quickly. Governments fear when they cannot control the story, and Facebook is a forum of freedom.

Though free countries have this valuable forum, only the slightest fraction of a percent of what goes on facebook is related to policy or politics. True, it was designed to connect with friends and not to discuss the value of free market ideas, but there are many opportunities it provides that we can all make an effort to take advantage of. Some have already been realized. The U.S. government has its own page where it posts things like videos of President Obama’s speeches. The state of Michigan has a page on which to share information as well. The Mackinac Center itself has a page where it posts new articles to raise awareness of what is happening in Michigan policy and share new ideas of how to improve the state. The market itself can find uses for facebook. Not only can businesses take out ads, they can create free pages to keep customers informed of specials and upcoming events.  As private citizens looking to promote freedom, posting links to important news, having debates, or writing thought provoking statuses can be a way of informing friends who may not think of such things themselves.

Though many of its uses are not fully realized, there are steps being taken as businesses and organizations learn how to use facebook to their advantage. We too should use this aspect of American freedom to spread the truth to our friends at home and around the world.  If you want to try liberty, maybe you should try facebook!


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