Social Media and Civil Society in Mexico: A Discussion
On Saturday August 14 at 2:30 p.m. a roundtable discussion will take place at Campus Party Mexico about digital activism campaigns and the role of social media in Mexican civil society. If you have questions about how to attend please leave a comment below, or get in touch via our contact page.
The morning of October 19 Alejandro Pisanty, a popular Twitter user and director of the Internet Society of Mexico, discovered that the Mexican Chamber of Deputies had recently approved a three percent tax on internet access. He quickly penned a brief blog post explaining the economic and social benefits of ensuring affordable internet access for all. He then linked to his blog post on Twitter where it spread like wildfire. Less than two weeks later and Pisanty, along with León Felipe Sánchez, Raúl Ramírez, and other influential Twitter users, were invited by several senators to put forth their arguments against the tax. They were accompanied by 5,000 online Twitter users in “what was the first ever interactive hearing in Mexican legislative history,” writes The Mex Files. The senators were persuaded and the tax was repealed.
If you are interested in more details about the campaign I recommend Renata Ávila’s thorough case study for the Technology for Transparency Network. It is there that I left a comment wondering aloud if Mexican Twitter users would also become active in other, similar digital campaigns that aimed not for cheaper internet access, but also for a more transparent government, a better education system, and an environment where journalists can report without fear. It is that precise question that will be debated on Saturday by a panel of five experts at the crossroads between traditional civil society and the new wave of online activism.
- Monica Tapia of Alternativas y Capacidades will discuss how her organization plans on using social media to network a coalition of organizations, activists, and concerned parents who want to improve policy to raise both the quality and inclusiveness of education in Mexico.
- Omar Rábago of Artículo 19 will describe how social media, especially Twitter, is becoming a strategic tool to spread awareness about the safety of journalists in Mexico. We have seen this over the past few weeks with the #losqueremosvivos campaign which has created solidarity among journalists and citizens as both groups demand for a safer working environment for journalists.
- Gabriel Lara of Fundar will present Subsidios al Campo, an online, open database of information related to agricultural subsidies which aims to promote more transparent government and improve policy related to rural development and domestic food production.
- Representing the new wave of digital activism campaigns, León Felipe Sánchez will provide an overview of #InternetNecesario, describing its success and the challenges for others wanting to follow its model.
The discussion will be moderated by Jorge Acosta of the Mexican Social Media Club. If you’re not able to make it in person, you can tune in live at the Campus Party website. We will also try to upload an edited version of key points of the discussion by next week.