What’s the deal with Facebook’s new ‘Women Connect’ campaign?

WomenConnectLogo

Hmmm, dear Feministing readers, how do we feel about this?

Facebook recently released an application called “Women Connect” to raise awareness and promote women’s causes worldwide. According to Facebook, the application is part of their “Diversity campaign” and is meant to be “an online platform for organizations and causes to connect and share information with supporters about issues of gender equality and women’s empowerment.”

This sounds all good, but it’s also a bit vague! So what does it do?

As an app it has several functions, many of which on their face seem pretty useful and positive. The main page displays a kind of counter module that makes connections between organizations and related causes. It also has “like” buttons for other Facebook pages that promote women’s issues. (It’s currently highlighting some cool but notably generic and uncontroversial organizations/campaigns like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Women for Women International, and the ONE Campaign.)

Facebook is even framing their creation of this app as “contributing to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)“, linking the Women Connect application to MDG Pledges, a website encouraging people to make pledges that support the MDGs. As Eesha wrote so eloquently yesterday, this is important because investing in women is really crucial for global development! But, as she also pointed out, things can get tricky when global corporations get involved in the business of development.

I think the new campaign has a lot of potential an am interested in seeing how it unfolds, and if it is able to be successfully incorporated into folks’ everyday Facebook experiences.

What do you think? Will this app help raise the visibility of women’s issues on the world’s largest and most influential social media platform? Can you see yourself using this app to really connect with other women, organizations, or issues that are important to you as a feminist? Do you already use Facebook to do that in other ways, and if so will this app help you do that in a better or more engaged way?

Go visit the Women Connect page on Facebook, and then come back and dish about it in the comments section!
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9 Comments

  1. Posted January 31, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Whatever. Facebook dug its heels in so deep to keep dudely sites about how funny rape is while also shutting down pro-breastfeeding sites, it’s going to take more than an thinly veiled new privacy-mining scheme like this to even begin to make amends.

  2. Posted January 31, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    I’m inclined to agree with a high school student who posted a comment on the page:

    ‘When Facebook changes its tolerant view toward content that dismisses, trivializes, and advocates rape culture, domestic violence, and violence toward women, only then will I believe they truly care about women. Facebook has been challenged time and time again to take down “like” pages that celebrate rape, and time and time again they have refused to do so. Facebook’s “leet” language setting changes “female” to “sandwich maker” on your profile. You really want me to think Facebook suddenly gives a shit about “women’s issues and empowerment”? Maybe I will once they stop being a horrifyingly sexist organization.’

    Overall, raising awareness is good, but these kinds of social networking endeavors ultimately increase the burden of work that smaller, non-Western women’s rights organizations struggle under to begin with. It further raises the profile of groups sponsored by Nike, and helps to erase local/grassroots organizations that are being run by the women these efforts claim to want to help.

    I’m not going to go as far as to say it’s useless, but I’m skeptical as to the value of such an initiative past the self-congratulatory back-pat of a facebook fan page “like”.

    • Posted January 31, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

      Sorry about the lack of clarity–when I say it increases the burden of work I mean that it requires smaller organizations to devote time and resources (e.g. internet, electricity, etc.) they don’t necessarily have toward promoting themselves on social networking sites, or risk the erasure that I discuss.

    • Posted January 31, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

      I agree with your point about privileging large organizations – and I also think that social networking like this abstracts from the particular needs of individual women. Why organize amongst your community if you can be a social networking activist, ‘liking’ the big non-profits or public-private consumer philanthropy organizations? It’s a kind of passive resistance.. we can see it now with what people are choosing to share on their wall. Sure, sharing feminist, anti-racist, environmental or any other kind of socially critical memes raises awareness, but we are now clicking ‘like’ and moving on with our lives, rather than following up awareness with action and solidarity-building. I don’t want to sound like an anti-technologist, but I fear Facebook’s ‘Women Connect’ will only exacerbate the monopoly big organizations have. These big organizations do a lot of good work, but they are also inherently more abstract and unresponsive to the particular needs of women than locally-born collective actions and organizations are.

      • Posted February 1, 2012 at 1:08 am | Permalink

        Seconded & thirded here.

        I limit my FaceBook activist feministing to learning about the next SlutWalk.

  3. Posted January 31, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    What’s the deal? It’s an attempt to squeeze more targeted profit off a particular demographic and encourage women to share more content to resell to data miners and advertisers.

    That’s all Facebook is, it’s not a “social movement” or anything.

  4. Posted January 31, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    I wish I understood it. But the first thing that came to mind, unfortunately, was the phrase “pink ghetto.”

  5. Posted February 1, 2012 at 2:44 am | Permalink

    Facebook “leet” really translates female to sandwich maker… what? They are gonna hear from me on this.

  6. Posted February 2, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Wow. How funny that one day after their $5 billion IPO, they all of a sudden care about women’s issues. Once they start banning rape pages on FB, I’ll believe they truly care about achieving Millenium Development Goals.

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