Is Facebook useful for public affairs?

It seems to be Facebook’s moment at present. Everywhere we look people are talking about it – whether its our own FH Digital London colleagues debating whether MySpace is better or the Economist profiling Facebook’s Mark Zuckerburg this week, it can not be long before Facebook becomes a verb and pays out to its founder (and perhaps his friends). However, we keep asking ourselves whether any of this is of relevance to what we do (see What is Public Affairs).

Undoubtedly, the 30 million people on Facebook could be a powerful network of people if they actually did anything together other than share photos from last night, poke each other and set up groups such as “If I were an enzyme i would be DNA helicase so i could unzip your genes” (at time of writing current membership of 110,880 with 3680 posts).

Happily the applications function of Facebook seems to make using Facebook to do stuff interesting stuff a distinct possibility. There is a petitions application and the US sites such as have jumped onboard.

As such, we thought we would test it out on our own little pet project – getting WiFi installed in the European Parliament in Strasbourg. It is not admittedly a noble aim, but a good trial of potential in any case. The Italian Parliament has recently announced it will install WiFi, we think the European Parliament should do the same; allowing assistants and others without offices the ability to work from the communal areas of the Strasbourg building, such as the infamous flower bar.

Taking our lead from the millions signed up by, we have launched a petition. You can sign up here (though if you are not on Facebook you shall need to sign up to that first). While you are at it we have also created a Facebook group “We’ve been to Strasbourg once too often” to share comments, dinner recommendations, events and chat about the monthly decamp to the Alsatian capital. It is an open group, so please join and contribute your meanderings.

We would also be happy to hear from you about the best PA tools available on Facebook’s applications – or indeed the tool you’d most like to see.


August 10, 2007 | 2:28 PM

I think one real interesting social networking tool in Europe is I find it far more useful and intuitive than LinkedIn or facebook. Moreover, it is a tool for professionals, and not for kids, which seem to be the main target of so many of the social network sites.

July 26, 2007 | 12:18 PM

<a href="" rel="nofollow">This</a> is quite an interesting article - particularly the comparison with linkedin.