tisdag 16 december 2014

Latin Americans ditch Facebook and start their own social media

Jorge Capelán, Tortilla con Sal, December 14th 2014

While thousands of European users have decided to sue Facebook, Latin America's popular movements have chosen to build their own alternative to what has become an infamous monopoly known for all sorts of abuses, from profiting from its users' postings and clicks to the selling of their personal data to corporations and the CIA.

It is like Facebook, but it's definitely not Facebook: It is called Facepopular, the new Latin American social media born in Argentina.
facepopular logo
The «face» in its name has nothing to do with the English word – it's an acronym for Frente Alternativo Contra el Estáblishment [Alternative Front Against the Stablishment].

Launched in the middle of 2013, today, a little more than a year later, it has managed to reach 900.000 members from all over the region, a number in the same range of magnitude as the one achieved in their first year by all those social media that today rule the global Internet.

«The goal is to generate a channel for communication and communitarian interaction, free from the arbitrary and authoritarian models imposed by other social media designed and operated outside the Latin American region by multinational corporations.

It is a Latin American social network, for Spanish-speaking people, conceived and designed according to our own criteria and standards», write the creators of the site, which was launched on July 9th, 2013 - Argentina's Independence Day.

Facepopular was originally conceived by a group of Argentinean cyber-activists after a campaign named “I'm not going to the 11/8” aimed at countering a number of upper-class rightist pot-banging protests staged against the progressive government of president Cristina Fernandez back in November, 2012.

With a little help from government, lots of recycled computers, ingenuity and plenty of engagement, the activists have managed to pull the “Red Popular”, a battery of alternative grass-root outlets ranging from streaming radio and TV broadcasts to blogs and e-mail services with Facepopular as the flagship.

With Facepopular, Argentina becomes a member of the select club of countries that host their own social media, a group that includes the US, Russia and China. For that reason, Facepopular has been declared of public cultural interest by the Argentina's culture ministry.

However, Facepopular has not been conceived as some new version of Facebook, although its design has some similarities. Facepopular includes features not present in the US-American monopoly, such as a “Don't Like”-button, chat rooms, streaming media and forums. Generally speaking, Facepopular is more of a place that favors organized interaction than Facebook, which is focused on individually motivated contacts.

In contrast with Facebook, Facepopular does have an explicit set of values that any member must observe, namely: to support the idea of integrating the whole of Latin America and the Caribbean in a united “Patria Grande” (Big Homeland); to support democracy (and thus to refuse engaging in destabilizing activities against democratically elected governments); and to oppose discriminating ideologies such as racism and sexism. Otherwise, no conditions of party or ideological allegiances are posed on the members.

In contrast with commercial corporate social media, Facepopular both expects and encourages active participation by its users in the network's development and promotion. For example, a system of “ambassadors” has been developed in order to allow users in different countries to promote Facepopular.
An example of this is the campaign #48horasdefacepopular (#48hoursoffacepopular) starting at 0:00 GMT on December 15th, in which activists of the social media will spread information in the Latin American cyberspace in order to recruit new users/activists. This is the second campaign of this kind launched since Facepopular started a year ago.

“Our territory is the Net, and our weapon is the Culture; the objective is to make people aware of our need to become a united, free, thriving and egalitarian nation under the banner of all our particularities, our differences and our common history”, write the creators of Facepopular in the network's founding manifesto.

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