It’s been a few weeks since Facebook first started making _tsunamis_ in the sea of social networking sites. We’ve seen the “emergence of the News Feed”: (and the massive “backlash”: that followed), the “implementation of an open admissions”: policy (not so huge, but still a major area of debate – check out the comments on “this”: digg story), and recently announced – a “new advertising plan”: that places ads (either banners or video clips) inside the News Feed will be launched within the next few weeks.

When launching the News Feed without proper privacy options exploded in Zuckerberg’s face, written protest showed its power. Interestingly enough, the venue of our demonstrations was Facebook itself. User-made groups shot up all over the site and within hours had thousands of members. At this moment, the “Students against Facebook News Feed (Official Petition to Facebook)”: group _still_ has 642,000 members.

When Tracy Schmidt suggested that this was Generation Y’s “”first official revolution”:,8599,1532225,00.html?cnn=yes,” I proposed that this first revolution could be the “beginning of many”:
bq. _Maybe now that we’ve got our activism juices flowing, we’ll find the inspiration to work at other issues we feel strongly about but have never had the courage to act on._

Well, shortly after the news about open admissions was released – similar protest groups were formed. However, they didn’t generate quite the same response as the first time around – the “Students Against Opening Up Facebook To Everyone (Official Petition)”: group only has around 11,000 members. I had speculated that “Students Against” groups would’ve taken off more after the News Feed instance, especially when another controversial issue like open admissions came along so soon after. Well, this trend obviously didn’t take off. I suppose the lack of response towards open admissions could have been because opening Facebook up to the world and essentially creating another MySpace didn’t directly or _immediately_ encroach upon each and every user’s privacy, where as broadcasting each users Facebook actions to every one of their “friends” via the News Feed, completely without warning or announcement, did.

So, the active online revolution that I _expected_ didn’t happen. However, a slightly different kind of revolution did.

h3. The marketing ploy that changed the WWW

Around the same time that the News Feed was launched, you may have heard mention (perhaps “on VH1’s _Best Week Ever_”: of a guy named ‘Brody Ruckus.’ This guy created a Facebook group called “If this group reaches 100,000 my girlfriend will have a threesome.” Well, within eight days this group had over 400,000 members. And then suddenly, the group disappeared. According to Brody on “”:, it’s because the people at Facebook “think threesomes are the devil.” However, “according to Chris Hughes”:, co-founder and spokesperson for Facebook:
bq. _The profile and group weren’t actually tied to a real user–turns out it was a marketing ploy. Because of that, we took the group down for violating our terms of service. It wasn’t because of the content itself._

It’s been “speculated”: that “Ruckus Music”:, “the premier college-only multimedia service,” could have been behind it all. Well regardless of all the rumors and controversy, this “ploy” started something BIG.

Shortly after the Brody Ruckus group was formed, I was invited to a group called: “For Every 1,000 that join this group I will donate $1 for Darfur”: It looks like this group was formed in reaction to Brody’s shenanigans. It states in its description:
bq. _So all those people that complained about the 100k threesome thing here is something for you. Let’s just hope this gets bigger than that._

Let me just first make it clear that I did NOT join the Brody Ruckus group – I found it immature and distasteful. However, I joined the Darfur group right away since I have always supported this cause. The funny thing was that as I clicked “Join Group,” I almost felt a little guilty. “The Observer’s Blog”: explains it best:
bq. _Somehow I find the whole situation fascinating. The willingness of people to expend minimal effort on what sounds like a good cause, especially the willingness to donate money or cause money to be donated. Imagine if everyone who joined the group actually read the linked article about Darfur; that would be amazing._

He’s right, 400,000+ joined this group so that _someone else_ would donate money to Darfur on their behalf. By simply joining this group, we’re not standing for what we believe in or doing anything about the problem ourselves. If Darfur received $400 from Marek Grodzicki (the creator of the group), it wouldn’t seem like an adequate contribution from 400,000 people, would it?

Well, it seems like this sentiment has begun to spread. People have pledged to match Marek’s donation and he states in recent news that he is also asking companies and corporations to match his donation as well. In addition to the Darfur group, countless similar groups have sprouted up all over Facebook to support other causes. Here are a few:
* “Every 100 people who join this group, I’ll donate £1 to Book Aid.”:
* “For every 10 People I will Donate $1 to Alzheimer’s Association”:
* “For every 1,000 people who join, I will donate $10 to fight breast cancer”:
* “For Every 1,000 People That Join This Group I Will Donate $1.00 to Unicef”:
* “For every 1,000 people that join this group I will donate $1 to Tibet Fund”:
* and the list goes on…

Unlike the Darfur group, most of these noble successors haven’t made it much further than 1,000 members and unfortunately, they probably won’t get much larger. With the rise in popularity of these donation groups, the spoofing spotlight has a new focus as well. Searching through Facebook, I came across about as many spoof groups as genuine ones. Granted many of them were rather entertaining (ie. For every [number] of people that join I will donate $1 to Tom Cruise/a beer to my belly/a pack of Ramen to Kevin/fight a mountain lion/pluck one of my ass hairs, etc.), they could begin to degrade the value of the groups that do have a serious purpose. Just as sentiment has begun to spread and people in these serious groups have started pledging their own time and money to match, the mocking nature of the spoof groups as well as the overwhelming number of _all_ of these groups (spoofs AND genuine) in general, threaten to cheapen the importance these serious groups.

h3. The future of Facebook = ?

So here’s what we’ve seen so far: the rise and fall of “Students Against” groups and the rise of “donations for membership” groups. We haven’t seen a sure fall of the donation groups yet, but I predict that it’s on its way. Facebook users are bound to get tired of joining countless groups just so that a fraction of a cent gets donated to a charitable cause. It’s sort of the youth of today’s mindset that one vote won’t make a difference – and for that matter, neither would a fraction of a cent. So what’s next, if anything?? Once donation groups fade out, will a new type of group be all the rage? Will there even be a next? I think we could probably expect a user response once the News Feed advertising gets underway – but at that point the response could be a boycott (by the original college network – not all the randoms that joined after open admissions – to them Facebook will just be another ad-mangled Myspace) rather than a new string of groups. At least, I know _I_ won’t be visiting Facebook as frequently once a ringtone advertisement that makes outrageously annoying sounds each time I mouse over it shows up in my News Feed.