With the Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament Facebook group now over 200,000 members, my weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) looks at how its success provides the clearest indicator yet of how poorly the Canadian political community understands social media and digital advocacy.
When the Prime Minister announced he was proroguing parliament in the midst of the holiday season, political commentators applauded the tactic, confident that few Canadians would notice or care. In less than three weeks, Christopher White, a university student from Alberta, proved the experts wrong, building the largest Facebook group in the country, one that's the focal point for national discussion and voter discontent.
As the group began to take flight, it was surprising to see political leaders and analysts blithely dismiss the relevance of Facebook advocacy. Editorials pointed to other large groups to demonstrate the group's irrelevance, noting that joining a Facebook group was too easy – just click to join – to mean much of anything.
This represents a shocking underestimation of the power of digital advocacy, which today is an integral part of virtually every political or business advocacy campaign.