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.

Avatar photo
AboutMaibe Ponet
Maibe Ponet is a Venezuelan-American journalist. She is currently the Opinion Page Editor for El Diario La Prensa, the oldest Spanish-language daily in the United States. She has worked as a reporter for leading Venezuelan national publications and was a staff writer for the Spanish language newspaper Hoy, where she covered local politics and NYC City Hall from 2002 to 2005. Following her departure from Hoy, she served as a press person for candidates, elected officials and city agencies, including the 2005 Democratic mayoral nominee Fernando Ferrer, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and the New York City Department of Education. Maibe is a former Independent Press Association Ethnic Journalism Fellow. She holds a BA in Journalism from the Central University of Venezuela, and a master's degree in Urban Policy and Management from The New School University.