The new social media seems to have penetrated all fields and practices in the planet. Is there anything which can’t be done online? We talk online. We shop online. We attend burol online. And we unite and rally online. Yes, friends. There is a form of activism which thrives in the new social media. It’s the C word. Cyberactivism.
Greenpeace and cyberactivism
The environment group Greenpeace is one of the many activist organizations which have utilized the power of the new social media in forwarding their advocacies. One of its most known actions online is the Corporate 100 actions against global warming, a campaign to pressure the 100 largest US companies to support the Kyoto Protocol (international agreement on climate change and global warming).
Below is a record of Greenepeace’s cyberactivism actions taken from Cyberactivism revolutionizes Greenpeace campaigns.
- The Cyber Centre is an online effort to build a community of environment advocates to rally behind Greenpeace’s cause. According to Kevin Jardine, the international media campaigner of Greenpeace and developer of Cyber Centre, the centre serves as a venue for people from over 170 countries to get informed, discuss, and participate in the discourses and debates on environmental destruction.
- At the Cyber Centre, activists can download action kits, send entertaining Flash-animated postcards to friends and play informative games.
- In 2000, Greenpeace activists installed a webcam at the end of an underwater radioactive discharge pipe operated by the French nuclear agency Cogema, in La Hague, France, to provide live documentation of nuclear waste discharges.
- Greenpeace then broadcasted the images from the pipe onto the web and onto a large screen at the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (OSPAR ) in Copenhagen, Denmark, where delegates were discussing the future of nuclear reprocessing.
- Greenpeace’s Arctic Action site was created in opposition to BP’s oil drilling operations in the Arctic Ocean and its contribution to climate change. The site included multimedia updates uploaded directly from the Arctic Ocean, the opportunity to send electronic letters to BP CEO John Browne and a choice of 1200 institutional BP investors, as well as an animated game where polar bears throw snowballs at BP Arctic drilling rigs.
Indeed, the Internet has revolutionized the way Greenpeace advances its resistance to environmental hazards and crimes. It has built communities of activists online where people get to talk and participate in a discussion of the present issues affecting the environment. Greenpeace has also engaged the public with the various tools and application which can be found in their sites such as Flash-animated postcards and games.
The Information Technology director of Greenpeace, Brian Fitzgerald, shares,
“The Internet will continue to play an important and powerful future role as an ally in the fight for the planet’s future. Whether it’s a zodiac in front of a harpoon, or the story of a tiny sailing ketch daring a government not to test a nuclear weapon, the core message of Greenpeace has always been that individuals can take action against huge destructive forces and win.”
The good thing about cyberactivism is that it utilizes the fullness of the new social media in informing the public and calling them to act. It provides a venue for the practice of communication, collaboration and collective action. In eliminating geographical boundaries and empowering individuals to act, activism has indeed reconfigured itself into a better face.