use social networks to organize protests, boycotts, and other consumer and social actions. Specifically, we noted how MySpace and YouTube were instrumental in coordinating the recent seller revolt at eBay, and that Facebook was recently used to launch a massive protest of Colombian rebel group FARC. Today comes the launch of the Ultimatums application on Facebook, which helps people organize social actions and spread them virally.Just yesterday we wrote about how people are beginning to
Ultimatums is a product of The Point, which puts a unique spin on online petitions by creating a call to action that signers pledge to follow through on if the campaign hits a predetermined tipping point. I.e., We all pledge to do X if Y number of people pledge to do so too. The Ultimatums application is more or less an extension of that function on Facebook.
Like any web site that launches a version of itself on the Facebook platform, the one major advantage that the Facebook version has over the web site is the pre-installed user base. We have anecdotal evidence that campaigns on Facebook, from the serious to the moronic, can gather support on the network very fast. What the Ultimatums app does is simplify and clarify the call to action and encourage people to pledge to a specific goal, rather than just lend their name to directionless support of an issue.
"There's a lot of potential energy building up in Facebook," according to The Point founder Andrew Mason. "People want a way that they can actually make a difference. [Ultimatums provides] a conduit, a channel by which that potential can be converted into activity that is ruthlessly focused on forcing real-world change to occur." At least in theory.
Another high profile Facebook application, Causes, which was created with the goal of tapping into the network's massive user base to raise funds for non-profits, has thus far failed to realize that goal. Though Causes has attracted widespread use, it has not inspired donations to match those installations. So how many people will actually follow through on the pledges they make through Ultimatums? Because it is easier for people to switch brands of peanut butter than cough up cash, we wouldn't be surprised if Ultimatums enjoys a little more success at spurring change than Causes, but we also expect that most campaigns launched with the app will flounder.
However, we noted earlier this month that even though Causes isn't doing much to raise money, it is potentially doing a lot to raise awareness. Ultimatums could at least have that effect, if it doesn't fall prey to app fatigue.