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Sunday, March 04, 2012

The New Age of Electronic Activism

Unless you have been hiding under a rock, you have probably heard of the latest offense from Rush Limbaugh. Rush is constantly and deliberately pushing the boundary of decency, but in the case, he travelled so far over the line that just about no one is defending his remarks.

Rush Limbaugh putting his foot in his mouth is by no means new and interesting news, given how often it has happened. What is interesting this time is the response. A public movement was organized from such popular online sites such as Reddit and Twitter with the goal of shaming advertisers away from Limbaugh's radio show. This movement has been remarkably effective at getting some major companies to pull their ads.

Of particular note was Carbonite, a popular online backup service. The initial and somewhat tepid response from Carbonite's CEO was conciliatory but ambiguous, and not nearly enough to halt the protests. It only took one day for the company to completely cave to the pressure.

I think this is only the beginning of the age of electronic activism. Immensely popular social web sites provide the manpower, and the internet provides instant access to the bare facts to fuel the flames. Old-fashioned media personalities like Rush Limbaugh who built their empires based on lies and hyperbole are just no match.

Posted at: 4:04 PM
Categories: Science and Policy