It seems that Julian Assange along with Mark Zuckerberg, creators of Wikileaks and Facebook may be on the list of nomin ation s for the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize. If you create a website that earns you condemnations from almost every government in the world because you revealed thousands of their secret messages then you’re probably doing something right, creating a for profit website that links your friends with your other friends which trades in the data it gleans from its 500 million users might not seem like such a strong candidate.
The key point is that each of them are media that allows for the free movement of information. Many governments hate them and in the case of Facebook will refuse access in times of civil unrest while they block Wikileaks out of hand. But then US government does too, at least to all it’s staff using their work computers and readers at the United States Library of Congress.
The Nobel prize is awarded to people who “[H]ave done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses” so previous winners such as The Red Cross and Medecins Sans Frontieres are natural competitors for the prize a website that releases sensitive secrets and one which buys and sells marketing space might not seem to be quite so worthy.
Facebook has often been lorded as a factor in mobilising people to demonstrate though. It allows any of its users the opportunity to criticise and comment about the treatment they receive in their country and join together in popular movements to do something about the issues that concern them. These days the first thing people who have an axe to grind say they’re going to do is start a Facebook group. If you want to rally opinion don’t bother writing to your national newspapers, start a group and tweet it!