The Internet as Tool for Activism

“The Internet provides venues for sweeping organizing work, publicity and propaganda, and for research,” Cruz added. “The social networking element is important to look at especially if people’s organizations wish to touch base with the middle social strata as well as the international audience.”

Bahague, national coordinator of the Computer Professionals Union (CPU), agreed, saying in a separate interview that online activism is particularly effective in terms of carrying out “sweeping propaganda” work.

They both point out, however, that online activism still has its limitations – especially in a country like the Philippines.

For Bahague, the relatively small percentage of Internet users in the Philippines in proportion to its population poses a challenge. “Objectively, Internet penetration in the Philippines is not that widespread… So accessibility is a problem and a limitation,” he said.

Bahague added that in the countryside, where the vast majority of the Filipino people live, there is an acute lack of infrastructure that could promote the growth of online activism.

Cruz, meanwhile, said the nature of the Internet as a source of information could also pose a problem for activists who choose to use the medium to push their causes.

“The Internet is full of unfiltered and unconfirmed information and the dominant type are those that spread cynicism, apathy, crass commercialism, etc.,” he said. “This can be viewed as a challenge for activists who bear progressive messages.”

Both Cruz and Bahague, however, are of the view that online activism cannot be passed off as a substitute for what they call real-world activism. Rather, they say, online activism should go hand-in-hand with offline, or real-world, activism.

“The Internet is best viewed as a medium, a tool, an avenue, a forum/agora,” Cruz said. “Activists should be able to tap into it for progressive purposes, actively engage in discussions, form as many online groups, make full use of social networking for organizing, mobilization, fundraising, alliance work, propaganda, publicity, etc. There may be breakthroughs in the future, like hundreds or thousands (of online activists) joining the people’s organizations, or online groups getting transformed into flesh-and-blood organizations offline.”

“There should not be a choice (between online and offline activism),” Bahague said. “Both forms should be used. Organizations should start incorporating online activities into their campaign plans.” (

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  1. Re: "no matter how hard we shout and try to convince people to rally, if the threat is not big enough and relevant to them, they will not march"

    I am a living witness that they will not march even if the threat is so big and highly relevant to them. Unless by big the author means big news. I have been posting my expose in several networks since March but I'm still trying and hoping to find one journalist who would care because generally speaking, only popular issues are being echoed and discussed in the said social networks.

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