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NRL News
Page 8
January 2010
Volume 37
Issue 1

Facebook is a Powerful Tool for Pro-Lifers

By Jonathan Rogers

The social networking web site Facebook may be one of the most powerful new tools available to the pro-life movement. While other mediums (blogs, YouTube, Twitter, etc.) have considerable value, Facebook has a key advantage: it mirrors real-life social interaction. Let’s see how.

For those unfamiliar with Facebook, users register to create a profile page of themselves and connect to other users through “friending” each other. Profiles are customizable.

You can offer as little or as much personal information as you wish—everything from church affiliation and character descriptions to favorite movies, music, books, hobbies, etc. Users interact with their online “friends” by sending messages (similar to e-mail), posting on each other’s profile pages, and updating their status (a short message displayed at the top of the user’s profile page, anything from a funny anecdote, thought of the day, or what that person is doing at the moment). In addition, users can create “groups,” which are unique pages geared towards a specific cause or organization, ranging from political groups, sports fans, discussion forums, to the random and miscellaneous.

The important connection to the Movement is that the majority of users on Facebook interact with people they already know in real life. If users “friend” someone they do not already know, it is almost always because of something the two users have in common, such as a mutual friend or a mutual cause. While the “friend” status of users on Facebook might not always signify the same sort of relationships we have in real life, Facebook friends do connect because they want to share things with each other as individuals, just as if they were having a physical conversation.

There are two important advantages for pro-lifers worth highlighting. The first is that it is easier than ever before to reach out to other pro-life individuals, to communicate with them, and organize.

For chapters, a Facebook group can help with many activities. A group page can enable quick messaging to members, planning and discussion of events, free advertising for individuals looking for a group in their area, and an entire contact list readily available at a moment’s notice.

But for any pro-life individual, whether active in a chapter or not, Facebook can be your own small contribution to building the culture of life. Plenty of active pro-lifers constantly post news articles or stories about abortion they find interesting and worth sharing. By posting news stories, or the latest important legislative alerts going out, you can in turn help spread the word to everyone you know.

Unfortunately, the Internet is renowned for dramatically lowering the bar for civility and accuracy in discussion and dissemination of information.

It goes without saying that the same rules for fact-checking and decorum we use in real life apply online.

This is doubly important because many of your Facebook friends will be people you know in real life. They will be more likely to trust the information coming from you, rather than from a generic media outlet, which makes the obligation to be extra careful all the more imperative.

We must never forget that at the end of the day, there is no substitute for the honest work of face-to-face meetings and events to spread our message. That is why we should always keep in mind that Facebook is a tool, not a wonder weapon, and that what is posted is for the world to see. And, of course, while extremely valuable, Facebook should not be seen as a magic cure-all for pro-lifers.

But Facebook is a wonderful way to network with pro-life friends and to send a life-affirming message out to a wider audience. If an individual isn’t pro-life yet, you’ll be exposing them to the pro-life message every time your status updates and postings show up in their news feeds.

Consider how many pro-lifers came to into the Movement through the happenstance of a conversation with a friend or a casual perusal of a pro-life news article. One’s Facebook profile can significantly boost the reach of the pro-life message.

A daily discipline as simple as posting NRLC’s Today’s News & Views article to your profile might end up recruiting a new volunteer, or, more significantly, saving a life.