Nonprofit Technology: Social Network Sites and Immigration Reform

This past summer, The Opportunity Agenda conducted a scan (PDF) to determine the state of immigration advocacy on the social web, looking specifically at the following: blogs that frequently cover politics and reach a mass audience, Twitter, YouTube, and the two largest social networking sites (Facebook and MySpace). This research built on a similar scan we conducted in 2007.

Turning specifically to social networking sites, we found a landscape transformed.  In 2007 anti-immigrant groups dominated social networking sites approximately two to one.  Today the majority of groups on Facebook with a focus on immigration support commonsense reform.  MySpace, meanwhile, seems to no longer serve as an active tool for advocacy.

While the main point of our scan was to provide a snapshot of online immigration advocacy in the summer of 2009, our research did lead to a number of recommendations.

First, we wish to point out the success of DREAM Act-related groups on Facebook.  Of all the immigration groups on the site, these were the most popular in terms of membership.  We speculate that an important reason for this was the ability of these groups to consistently update their content and have active members routinely post information and news related to the DREAM Act. This is key. Members often need to see the vibrancy of a group before they will participate. Once they do, these members' networks see this activity and learn of the group. It is this cycle, we believe, that led to much of the success seen by these groups.

Our crude measure for participation in these groups, membership, is not uncommon. As seen by the proliferation of Facebook groups looking for "1,000,000 for..." any number of causes, it would help the movement to combine its numbers to show unity and support for practical immigration re- form. The best example, again, is the dream Act with its 33 different groups advocating for the same piece of legislation. Despite the difficulties in doing so, it would be beneficial to work toward fewer groups and higher membership rolls.

Again read the full report online for more.  Meanwhile, any more tips? Let us hear them in the comments below.

Tags: dream act, Facebook, immigration, MySpace, new media, Opportunity (all tags)

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