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Harnessing the power of Facebook

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Two weeks ago, the idea of starting a secular student group on my campus was just a pipe dream. Today, we are an officially registered organization with 150 students on the mailing list. How did we grow so fast? In the beginning, it was just my 2 roommates and I, who are woefully undermanned for distributing flyers all over campus. I decided a cheap and easy way to get the word out would be to use Facebook. I created a group, typed up a short message, and started sending it out to everyone in my school's network with something secular-sounding listed under their "religious views." Well, it turns out that the Facebook overlords frown upon this kind of behavior. After I sent out about 20 messages, I started getting warnings that they were detecting suspicious behavior on my account, and that it could be disabled if I continued to spam people. I was a bit skeptical, so I kept on sending them out to see how far I could go. Somewhere between 20 and 30 messages, my account was locked out. Yup, I got kicked off of Facebook. It took them like 5 days to straighten it out. By the time I got my account back, I realized that I should probably go about the process differently. Instead, I lifted people's names off of Facebook and then used the "phonebook" feature of the UIUC website to get their email addresses. Using that method I compiled a list of 500+ addresses from every single atheist, agnostic, humanist, pastafarian, skeptic, rationalist, and naturalist on campus. Finally, I sent a message to everyone on the list inviting them to join. It took some effort, but it was a very effective method for advertising a new group on campus. By harnessing the stalking power of Facebook, you can cut out the middle man and directly reach your target audience. Chris Calvey President, "Atheists, Agnostics, & Freethinkers" University of Illinois at Champaign Urbana
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