TED Conversations

Bob Dohse


This conversation is closed.

How might we use social networks to facilitate a short-term boycott on a company or product that creates positive community pressures?

How can we better use our social networks to create positive changes in our communities?

Is there a way to use short-term boycotts to signal to a company or government entity that our community is not happy with them?

Long-term boycott have a severe impact on a corporation's finances or a government's ability to provide services, but short-term boycotts allow for messaging without disabling a company or a government.

Might a "40 Hour Fast" be the tool that gets management's attention without destroying the entire organization?



Closing Statement from Bob Dohse

We generated a few thoughts to ponder, but I think perhaps the power of socially-networked protests remains in the hands of the traditional "community activists".

I know of 2 recent socially-networked protests, but they choose to remain anonymous and I'll respect that choice.

One used the power of video, linked to a social network, to effect change is the corporate decisions of a national residential (apartment) management company.

The other used social networking to implement the short-term boycott of a product. Their boycott drove the product's user activity to a historically low level ... an activity level that would be financially unsustainable for the company over time. The long-term effect upon company policy is still undetermined, but the group's boycott generated a 50% increase in group membership and the members are very pleased with the initial results.

The conclusion to this dialog, I think, is that there is more to come in this area as socially-networked activism further develops.

Thank you to the participants of this TED Conversation.

Warm regards.

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  • May 10 2013: I would think it depends on 2 things: 0) the number of users on the site and 1) the 80/20 rule (a.k.a. Pareto principle).

    On Facebook, with millions of users, as far as Facebook is concerned - you'd have to organize a REALLY large boycott to be noticed.

    On a smaller site with thousands of users, if you (and your fellow protesters) are a part of the 20% responsible for 80% of the interactions, then yeah... you might be noticed.
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      May 10 2013: So ... Terrill ... if a smaller site had 100 active users, only 20% (20 users) could effectively make a big difference.

      • May 10 2013: Bob: my last name is Bennett, not Pareto. I'm going out on a limb, and say "Yes" - IF you (and your cohorts) are a part of the 20% who make-up the 80% of the sites activity (e.g. articles written, comments made, etc).

        If you and your cohorts are part of the 80% who don't make-up the lions share of the sites activity, then you probably won't be noticed.
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          May 10 2013: Thanks for clarifying, Mr. Bennett. ;-)

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