E-Advocacy, an opportunity

Electronic advocacy also known internet activism, is the use of Social media such as Facebook, twitter, whatsapp, etc. to spread awareness to the common man on issues which require public attention. Electronic advocacy or e-advocacy, is a fairly new phenomenon in the world, but it has achieved incredibly fast growth among the people due to its various benefits and its ability to inform people of current affairs without them having to leave the comfort of their homes; in our modern day world where even groceries can be bought with swipe of your mobile phone’s screen, electronic advocacy has been embraced fairly quickly.
As mentioned above, internet activism is a fairly recent phenomenon; to be precise it started in the year 1990 when the company Lotus and the credit bureau Equifax combined to create a product known as the “Lotus Marketplace” which was a software database created to hold contact information like an electronic phonebook. The product was of two types: the “Lotus Marketplace: Business” and the “Lotus Marketplace: Households”; the households version was the controversial one as it contained the names, addresses and telephone numbers of more than 100 million US citizens. To stop and effectively ban this product many concerned consumers circulated the contact information of Lotus through e-mail and message boards so as to allow people to request the removal of their information from the database; In the end nearly 30,000 people did so resulting in Lotus and Equifax deciding not to launch the product.
E-advocacy finally reached public attention in India in the year 2009 with the “Pink Chaddi Campaign” which was started by Nisha Susan to protest against the attacks on women pub- goers by right wing Hindu parties. Today with the growth in popularity of social media, sites such as facebook and twitter have become a platform for people young and old in India to voice out their opinions and keep their fellow Indians about pressing issues. Indian citizens have truly adopted e-advocacy as a means to mend the country. With campaigns such as ‘Net neutrality’ which is aimed at informing the people about paid web browsing which was to be launched in India, we are really pushing forward as a developing nation; a nation where every citizen has a chance to voice out his or her opinion and have the surety that it will be heard.
There are many benefits to e-advocacy:
1. People can be informed faster- Due to more than 70% of the world being on Social Media, news spreads like wildfire. One person might start an activism page on facebook concerning animal abuse, as his friends share the page, and their friends share it as well, within a few hours the page might have garnered attention from around the world.
2. People’s voice can be heard- The one problem that a democracy always faces is the people’s views not being heard by the government, but on the internet, where anyone can post a comment or decide to give their support to a certain cause, everybody’s voice has the ability to reach the ears of the men and women running our country.
3. Gives the common people power- Even though our country and many other countries are Democratic countries, it is only for namesake, in real it is mostly an autocratic regime where the people’s needs are seldom taken into consideration. But, on the internet, where what we say can be seen by anyone anywhere in the world, the people’s voice becomes important. Our campaigns become national news, if the people rally against a certain government policy, then we have the power to stop it from being passed.
4. Brings people together- Adding to the point above, e-advocacy brings people together, on the internet it doesn’t matter what religion or what caste you are from, your opinion matters. Internet activism brings people together by allowing like minded individuals who dislike certain issues their country or the world is facing to join hands and voice out their dislike.
Though, internet activism is very beneficial, it does have it’s problems as well:
1. Little issues get blown out of proportion- Minor issues may get blown out of proportion on the internet. Though it rarely happens, once in a while, issues which don’t really hold much importance, get picked up and made larger than they are.
2. There is no privacy on the internet- It is said that, in this day and age, nobody is safe on the internet, this is because every website you open, every file you upload or download and even the messages you send to your contacts are being tracked. This poses a threat to civilians who decide to go up against the government on certain issues.
All in all, e-advocacy even with it’s demerits is a very effective method to unite people under one cause. It is as of yet, the fastest means to spread awareness about pressing issues from anywhere in the world in the most convenient way possible. It is a growing power and it holds a lot of promise for our future generations, as it gives the common man the power to shape the world around them.