Digital Activism Wins Again! (Observations from Across the Pond)

It may not be the equivalent of Obama supporters on Facebook changing their middle names to “Hussein” or ordinary people turning their profile pics green in support of Iranian protesters, but in the U.K. a Facebook campaign took on Simon Cowell and won.

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Apparently it’s become almost a Christmas tradition that the winner of X Factor — the show that more or less succeededPop Idol — will top the charts at Christmastime (U.K. spelling) in Great Britain. As with American Idol, the winner receives a contract with Simon Cowell’s label and is instantly famous. This year, however, a cheeky Facebook   movement thwarted all of that.   This year’s Christmas #1 was “Killing in the Name” a 1992 single by Rage Against the Machine. Simon Cowell’s label had to settle of the No. 2 spot.

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Mostly as a lark, 35-year-old Briton Jon Morter used FB to rage against the Cowell machine and strike a blow against mediocrity. According to The Guardian 500,000 copies of “Killing in the Name” were sold before Christmas keeping X Factor winner, Joe McElderry, in the second slot on the Christmas charts. It’s all because of an average guy, Morter, and his power to use Facebook as a marketing tool. By New Year’s Eve, McElderry had reached the top spot on the charts, but Morter had already made his point. Or at least what I think is the point: A lot of little people rising up together can topple a powerful, monolithic institution. With the web and social networking, we can do it faster and easier. Also, we won’t accept being force-fed schlocky entertainment and, again because of the web, we don’t have to accept schlocky entertainment because we have access to everything.