Washington, Dec 2: Web sites like Facebook, MySpace, and others had been created as a platform for social interaction, but they are now fast becoming weapons for a positive social change.
The sites are now being seen as powerful tools of social and political change, and activists from around the globe are using them to get the message across. "We are seeing communications technology as a powerful force for social and political change," Fox News quoted Matthew Waxman, an associate Professor at Columbia University, as saying. Waxman, who until recently was part of a special State Department think tank that advised Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on emerging issues, is part of a conference at Columbia University Law School that is bringing together activists from around the world.
"This is a great way to get similarly minded people all over the world together," said James Glassman, under secretary of state for Public Affairs.
Glassman represents the State Department at the Columbia conference, called the Alliance for Youth Summit, and had spoken out in January about terrorists using the Internet.
"Al Qaeda was eating our lunch on the Internet. I actually think that that has changed and that the violent extremist groups that use the Internet are using it in the old-fashioned way: they're using it to instruct, to exhort - basically tell people what to do," he said.
"We feel that around the world, young people are using the Internet to push back against violence in a new way, using social networking, convening large groups to have conversations, basically, to share information. And that is something that Al Qaeda and the violent extremist groups cannot stand.
"We think the technology that exists today is one our side; it's not on the extremists' side," he added.
Oscar Morales, a 33-year-old, unemployed computer technician, set a good example when he showed how one can make a difference and bring about change in the world by just logging on to the Internet.
Morales had earlier this year single handedly organised a protest, which saw 12 million people in 190 cities taking to the streets to protest against the Colombian terrorist group FARC.
The computer technician was so outraged by the kidnappings and acts of violence being committed by the rebel Marxists, that he felt compelled to do something, and started the Facebook group One Million Voices Against FARC.
"What we witnessed on February 4 was amazing. It was beyond all our expectations. We couldn't believe it," he said.