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Dear Online Activist Friends-Share Everything


Posted by Marivel Guzman
Original post by Vahid Razavi
On October 15, 2010

Dear online activist friends,

Social and Peace Activist, author Vahid Razavi

I would like to share with you my views on privacy and activism in the age of social media.  As you are well aware, information about you; such as present location, bank account, health records, credit and driving history, as well as your online habits, emails and phone calls are monitored for the sake of companies and governments.

If you have taken a stand in a protest, placed phone calls to the Middle East, have Middle Eastern name you might as well consider your privacy out the door.

The whole notion of privacy in this digital age is misguided since governments and corporations systematically track, index, log and analyze user behavior. If you are not prone to risk and want to protect your identity, use a false name and a false picture profile and information.

That is the best way to hide your online identity. Even that does not protect you. For example if you use Skype or make a transaction at online bank to check your statements from the same machine that you used to log into your fake profile. The fake profile can be now be  linked to your real identity.

This article is not about privacy but to encourage you to participate not just in your own circle but in the large circle of opposing views and positions. I will give you an example. As you are aware, for over the past two years I share articles that my team and I have written about business or social issues on my Facebook’s wall. I have open friend policy because I want our message of peace, tolerance and sustainable business practices to reach a large audience.  At the same time, I am part of the Republican party, the Democratic party and moveon.org etc.  I make an active decision to share information and blog posts on various groups in LinkedIn, for example the chamber of Commerce, an organization that I find myself on the complete opposition to.

Guess what happens when I post an article to one of the groups that share the opposite values that I have? They get all worked up! They start posting and calling me names etc. Frankly I do not care about that. My business and money does not come from the Chamber of Commerce or the Republicans or Democrats. I am not on any ones payroll except my own but it gets under the skin of these groups. It pisses them off like no tomorrow. I am proud of that. They devote precious time posting articles and time trying to convince themselves that they are still in the right. I just wish sometimes my activist friends expand the circle of friends and work on the larger population to sell ideas to the masses.

I am not asking you sacrifice your perceived privacy. I am asking you to get involved even if it is under a different profile name and join these groups so that we can influence its members and the actions of these groups.

Additionally we can all do many things that do not cost money and yet has a big impact. Do you know that Google/Facebook/Bing all provide coupons for first time users of the advertisement networks? If you do not have an ad network account it is easy to start one. Check it out. Create an advertisement network account and use one of the first 50 dollars or first 75 dollars ads are free coupon. Find an article or an organization you want to promote. Decide on the keywords (simply pick your cause as the keyword) Place your ads for that organization. When you reach the 75 dollar mark disconnect the ads. You did not pay a dime and was able to advertise on a network for a cause you backed.

The goal is to encourage folks to reach outside of the circle of friends and leverage social media and the web as the people’s media. The point is that too many activists remain stuck within the orbit of like minded people. While having a community is important, we often neglect the middle of society. Many people work too much, if they are lucky to have a job. They are worried about their bills, their health care expenses, their mortgage and rent payments, their families. Many of them share the same concerns and have the same anxieties as we do. They don’t have the time to explore the social and political issues in depth. They turn on the local news, watch CNN or Fox for an hour or so. Many of them simply read the free morning newspapers handed out to commuters which do not provide comprehensive analysis. This is the social layer that we as activists must reach. History shows that all social and political changes have occurred only when the broad middle of society participates. Yes, the movements are often started with small groups but they have succeeded by communicating and connecting with the larger members of society. The Civil Rights movement started with a small church in Alabama and spread across the country bringing supporters from the mainstream. The same occurred with the LBGT movement. What started as a minority movement has become mainstream. Had Blacks only confined their struggle for equal rights to themselves, it’s unlikely that any advances would have been made. Had only gays and lesbians struggled alone, it’s unlikely that their legal rights would have been recognized and their struggle continues. It’s imperative that activists reach out to the mainstream. It’s the only way to effect the social and political changes we desire. Failure to do so will result in our permanent marginalization.

That’s my two cents.

Peace.

Vahid

Too Small for social change?...Not at all

Mr. Razavi Iranian-American author of The Age of Nepotism has traveled extensively to Iran and the Balkans. He is an expert in the subject of Iran and US politics. As CEO of BizCloud company, Mr. Razavi develops the organization strategy and manages the company’s sales, engineering Marketing and day to day operations.He brings to the position more than thirteen years of sales, operations and customer service experience in the software and customer service industry.

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