Immigrants Use Facebook to Connect with Family – and Issues – Back Home

Thousands of Venezuelans living abroad, for example, used Facebook last week to learn about and participate in an international protest against President Hugo Chavez. They set their Facebook status to the demonstration’s slogan: “No Más Chavez” (No More Chavez.)

The use of Facebook and other social networks by the Venezuelan opposition had already become so prominent by July this year that the Venezuelan government responded with an official statement. In response to the September march, it also launched its own Facebook campaign.

Immigrant advocacy groups in the U.S. are also using Facebook to increase their visibility and mobilization.

Make the Road New York, a New York City-based immigrant advocacy organization, is exploring the idea of incorporating Facebook training in its computer literacy workshops for immigrants and revamping its presence on the social network. The idea came from Mauricio Rocha, 24, who arrived in Queens from Colombia three months ago. Rocha thinks Facebook can contribute to the organization’s effort to mobilize immigrants.

“Every person of my age uses Facebook, not only on their desktops or laptops but on their phone and handhelds,” said Rocha. “Older people learn and adapt very quickly to this technology. In Colombia, Facebook helped organize a million-person movement against the FARC. We can do the same here in Queens.”

A random search on the “Facebook Groups” option will bring up congregations of Mexican Jews, Haitians in Connecticut, Indians Abroad, Colombians in London, Israelis in the World — all sorts of nationalities and movements have created their own Facebook public square.

A search of the word “immigration” this week showed almost 7,000 groups.

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