Social Networking
last updated June 8, 2011
In recent years there has been an increase in the number of Internet sites which offer networking resources and facilitate the sharing of information between diverse individuals.  Organizations can share information, pictures and resources with interested parties and promote their causes worldwide.  Individuals can access these organizations and disseminate their own thoughts, interests and resources to a larger community and audience.  
Facebook is one such widely-known social networking site, with over 500 million active users and 70 available language settings.  Facebook allows individuals to create a profile with personal information, pictures and interests.  Users can share their thoughts frequently through status updates and posts.  For example, human rights NGOs such as The Advocates for Human Rights have Facebook pages that allow individuals with Facebook accounts to subscribe to updates and receive news about matters of human rights concerns from around the world.
What Can One Do With Facebook?
  1. Facebook users add other users as ‘friends’ and can then share posts with them and read their information, and look at their pictures, among other actions.  
  2. Users can advertise their other websites, blogs, or Twitter updates by posting links on Facebook.  
  3. Users can also create ‘Events’ on Facebook which publicize activities or events hosted by them or an organization.  Event pages give the time, location, and a brief informative description of the event.
  4. Users can receive invitations to an event from the creator of the event or from other attendees, depending on the privacy settings for that event.  The event page will list those who respond that they are attending, might be attending or are not attending.  
  5. Privacy settings are available and users can choose from a variety of different controls to make their profiles public or private.
Facebook also allows users to create group pages that other users can join, contribute to and communicate through.  Group pages can center around any topic or cause and can be advertised by group members through invitations to other users.  Group members can contribute links, posts, comments or pictures to the group page by posting on the group’s wall or posting a ‘discussion’ topic.  Members can communicate with other members through these posts.  This feature is especially important and useful as it promotes dialogue about human rights issues and users can inform each other and connect to a global network of human rights advocates.
The administrators of a group page have several options for layout, resources and for communicating with members.  For example, administrators, who the group creator appoints and gives full access to the group, can write informational notes on the page which will appear in the news feed for the page’s followers.  They can also send messages to all members, who will receive this message in their inbox.  They can also post links to articles, videos or websites.  These tools allow organizations to regularly update members with news, information and events.  Group pages have tabs at the top of the page which can be customized by the creator and/or administrators.  These tabs might include categories such as “join,” “events,” or “donate.”
Twitter is another fast-paced social networking site. Twitter allows users to share, or “tweet,” information and updates rapidly in a concise format.  Twitter users can follow other users and receive their updates on their home page new feed or via text message.  Updates can only be a maximum of 140 characters, although they can include URL links, links to pictures hosted on Twitter’s image and media website, or a link to a ‘trending topic’ denoted by the number (#) symbol.  For example, using #humanrights in a ‘tweet’ will link that ‘tweet’ to a page with all other updates that include that trending topic.  Twitter is used by many celebrities, news organizations and businesses.  Twitter is an effective means for organizations, NGOs and advocates, to advertise breaking news or events instantly to hundreds of thousands of users or ‘followers.’  Users can also instantly communicate with one another by tweeting @ another user, which expands the visibility of the tweet.  For example, if one user tweets @Advocates this tweet will be linked to Advocates’ twitter page and the Advocates user will be notified.  Tweeting @ another user will increase the number of users who see that particular tweet on their update feeds or on each user’s twitter page.  Each account can be personalized with images, information, security settings, and language preferences. Amnesty International currently has a Twitter page, and can therefore share
Many other options for social networking and rapid information sharing are available, although Facebook and Twitter are among the most popular for these purposes.  Other websites which facilitate news sharing and networking include, and  Technorati is a blog search engine which connects users to a wide array of blogs, social media sources and advertisers.  Member users can contribute content and rank other blogs and articles.  Digg offers similar access to a variety of news articles, blogs and other media resources on all topics.  Articles are ranked in popularity by the number of ‘diggs’ they receive by users and information can be sorted by popularity or by the type of media (text, video or image).  By posting blogs or articles and receiving ‘diggs’ and feedback, NGOs and advocates can increase publicity for their cause and disseminate their organizations information and viewpoints.  Mixx is a similar news and media source through which users can personalize their information feed to show articles and news of interest.  Users can also submit their own information, photos or videos.  These sites make blogs, articles and other media resources easily searchable and connect NGOs and users with relevant bloggers and information providers.