Online activists: guardians of liberty

After I read Rohlinger and Brown’s article and found the organization like American Civil Liberty Union, I think I got a new knowledge of online activism. Like Rohlinger and Brown stated in their article “the Internet engages individuals in a broader range of activities—and this has important implications for democratic processes.”

It took me quite a long time to look for an organization’s website, since I barely knew one before. After plenty of research, I decided to choose the ACLU (American Civil Liberty Union).  ACLU is the “nation’s guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country.” It was established in 1920, and according to Wikipedia, “the ACLU reported over 500,000 members in 2010.”  ACLU has the clear layout as, anonymous comments, functional links, related news updates and pictures, no advertisements, etc. ACLU encourage participants to give them support or donation then be a part of protecting rights and liberty, and it also “provided members a free space away from the direct control of dominant groups in which they could articulate an oppositional point of view” mentioned in Rohlinger and Brown’s article.

Meanwhile, there are some differences between and ACLU as well. Firstly, signing up on needs to provide name, E-mail and whole mail address while ACLU is even simpler that only needs the E-mail and zip code. Secondly, ACLU has a functional link to their blog, but I didn’t see it on Those blog posts are divided into many different categories like Capital Punishment, Free Speech, Human Rights, LGBT Rights, and Racial Justice etc. These posts are about ACLU recently helped people (no matter are their members or not) who has been suffering unequal treatment to defend their rights. Such as the newest one “The Best Person (Andre Cooley) for the Job…Fired for Being Gay”, the ACLU has filed suit on behalf of Andre. Thirdly, they have different missions. ACLU is more concerned about individual rights and liberties, and it gives those online activists a chance to be guardians of liberty, while is focused on political action and “enables progressive activists to talk to one another and challenge corporate power”.

In addition, I wasn’t aware of that Burma is one of the most censorious nations before I read Talbot’s article. I don’t think censorship can ever be a smart move because people are not easy to be fooled and they can always find a way to see the uncensored version.  I really agree with Rohlinger and Brown that “the Internet provides a unique mediated space, and social movement groups that understand how to meaningfully organize a citizen’s experience in this space have the potential to effect social change”, and it “provides an alternative media space for those that disagreed with the policies and challenges the power structure.”


2 responses to this post.

  1. ACLU’s site does look a lot nicer and more streamlined than a lot of the other activist sites I browsed through.

    I think the anonymity provided by the site is particularly important in light of the groups they seem to represent. For example, Mr. Cooley shows that identifying one’s sexual preference can lead to professional consequences. People who wish to support the ACLU, but do not want to find themselves in the same position of losing their job or other such consequences, are probably appreciative of the ability to register using only email and the zip code. If they had to give more information, they might not be as willing to sign up.

    While the amount of activism one can do cloaked entirely by anonymity is limited, I still think it is worthwhile to allow people the option to participate. Even if, for example, it is only by receiving information from the site. Knowledge is power, after all.


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