Can Facebook defeat terrorism?

Maybe. From Gutenberg to pre-Revolutionary pamphleteers to the Internet, increasing the access to information has been a catalyst for change. Yesterday, Steve Corman looked at this question and noted that

[w]hile Facebook played an important role in the development of the protest march, it can be better described as a catalyst than a cause.

The media, formal and informal, new and old, is the oxygen both terrorist and counter-terrorist movements require to exist and thrive. The advantage of the latter over the former is truth, transparency, and promising futures. New Media’s ability to engage, mobilize, and empower transcends geography and time. It simultaneously reaches locally and globally, providing instant and “time-shifted” access to text, pictures, and videos. It also fosters trusting peer relationships that add credibility to messages and the movement itself.

Today, the State Department announced an event to facilitate more catalysts for change:

Facebook, Google, YouTube, MTV, Howcast, Columbia Law School and the U.S. Department of State Convene the Alliance of Youth Movements Summit

Dec. 3-5 Summit in New York to Bring Together Global Youth Groups, Tech Experts to Find Best Ways to Use Digital Media to Promote Freedom and Justice, Counter Violence, Extremism and Oppression

New York, NY, November 18, 2008—Facebook, Google, YouTube, MTV, Howcast, Columbia Law School, the U.S. Department of State and Access 360 Media are bringing leaders of 17 pioneering organizations from 15 countries together with technology experts next month in New York for the first-ever conclave to empower youth against violence and oppression through the use of the latest online tools. 

Rising star Jared Cohen (author of Children of Jihad: A Young American’s Travels Among the Youth of the Middle East) is a major force behind this event. The rest of the press release is below the fold.

These young leaders will form a new group, the Alliance of Youth Movements, which will produce a field manual for youth empowerment. The field manual will stand in stark contrast to the Al-Qaeda manual on the basics of terrorism, found by Coalition Forces in Iraq.

The gathering was inspired by the success of the One Million Voices Against the FARC, a group started on by young people in Colombia. Aided by social networking technologies, the organization inspired 12 million people in 190 cities around the world to take to the streets in protest against the FARC, an extremist group that has been terrorizing Colombia for more than 40 years. The magnitude of the marches illustrated once and for all that the FARC lacked a strong support base. Within days of the protests, the FARC witnessed massive desertions from their ranks. The Colombian group will share their ideas with leaders of other groups that use social and mobile technologies to promote freedom and justice and oppose violence, extremism and oppression.

The New York summit will bring together such organizations as One Million Voices Against the FARC, Save Darfur Coalition, Genocide Intervention Network, Burma Global Action Network and Invisible Children.

The Alliance of Youth Movements Summit will take place December 3 to 5 at the Columbia Law School in Manhattan. “We at Columbia are excited about helping, designing, and studying innovative public-private partnerships that leverage new technologies to tackle some of the world’s greatest challenges. This summit is a great opportunity to do this,” said Matthew Waxman, associate professor of law.  The event will also be streamed live online by and on Howcast Media is organizing the Summit with additional support from Facebook, Google, YouTube, MTV, Columbia Law School, the U.S. Department of State and Access 360 Media.

Speakers at the Summit will include:

  • Whoopi Goldberg, Host of ABC’s “The View”

· Dustin Moskovitz, Co-Founder, Facebook

  • James K. Glassman, Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, U.S. Department of State
  • Oscar Morales, Founder, One Million Voices Against the FARC
  • Luke Russert, MSNBC
  • Matthew Waxman, Associate Professor of Law, Columbia Law School

Panels will discuss a variety of practical topics, including How To Build Transnational Social Movements Using New Technology, How To Use New Mobile Technologies and How To Preserve Group Safety And Security.

Summit participants will also be honored at a red-carpet event with entertainment celebrities, business leaders, and civil society figures at the former home of MTV’s Total Request Live (“TRL”) overlooking Times Square.

Howcast will use the field manual for youth empowerment developed at the Summit as the cornerstone of a much larger online “hub,” where emerging youth organizations can access and share “how-to” guides and tips on how to use social-networking and other technologies to promote freedom and justice and counter violence, extremism and oppression. The hub ( will include instructional videos and text guides, links to related online resources and discussion forums for sharing experiences, ideas and advice.

“The Summit provides a unique opportunity to bring these socially conscious groups together for the purpose of making real, positive change in the world," said Jason Liebman, Co-Founder and CEO of Howcast Media. “Howcast’s mission has always been focused on making it easier for people to learn how to do just about anything, and I’m particularly proud to see Howcast being used to help people learn how to make a difference in improving the world that we all share."

“I’m thrilled and inspired to see how people, especially young people, are using Facebook and other technologies to work together to improve the lives of entire nations of people,” said Elliot Schrage, VP of Communications, Public Policy and Platform Marketing, Facebook.  “We often focus on the value technology brings to the individual but the true promise of technology is unlocked when it connects people and enables them to work with a common purpose.”

“The State Department is proud to play a role in highlighting the new wave of civil-society empowerment that is happening online,” said James K. Glassman, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. “What is so encouraging is that this effort is being led by public-spirited technology firms like Howcast and innovative educators like those at Columbia University.”

“It’s critical that young people continue to utilize the technological tools available to them to band together and rally around causes and movements that can make a difference in the world,” said Ian Rowe, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs and Strategic Partnerships.  “On, we encourage young people to engage in and take action on the issues that matter to them most.  This Summit revolves around how young people can do this, through multiple technology platforms.”

About the Alliance of Youth Movements Summit

From December 3 to 5, leaders of pioneering youth movements will launch a global network that seeks to empower young people to mobilize against violence and oppression. Brought together by Howcast, Facebook, Google, YouTube, MTV, the U.S. Department of State, Columbia Law School and Access 360 Media, leaders of the organizations will travel to New York City with the mission of crafting a field manual on how to effect social change using online tools. This field manual will form the cornerstone of a much larger online “hub,” where emerging youth organizations can access and share “how-to” guides and tips on using social-networking and other technologies to further their causes.

About Howcast Media

Recently named a top website of 2008 by both TIME and PC Magazine, engages consumers to watch and share free, useful how-to videos and guides produced in-house at Howcast Studios as well as by innovative media partners, trusted brands and individual contributors.  Howcast Studios produces useful, engaging how-to videos while also enabling up-and-coming filmmakers and students to gain experience and build real careers by making professional video with guidance in the Howcast Emerging Filmmakers Program.

To show consumers how-to videos wherever, whenever they need to learn how, Howcast tailors and The Howcast Player to showcase instructional content, while partnering with leading websites as well as home and mobile-video providers. Howcast also offers marketers innovative, relevant “how-to” video-advertising solutions.

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Domestic Press Contact:    
Tessa Barrera
Office : 646-558-0671

International Press Contact:
Jared Cohen
Office : 202-647-0531