THE power of the fastest growing social network in the world is being harnessed as a catalyst for social change.

Finnish celebrity Tino Singh is just one of many tapping into Facebook’s social power with his group Minun Suomeni on kansainvälinen - My Finland is International. “I got tired of all the xenophobic writing on the web and lately in mainstream politics,” he states. “I needed to reach out to those who live in the same Finland as I do.”

The group provides a platform for supporting and participating in an international Finland. Using practical grassroots work to defuse tension and increase cultural knowledge within people, the aim is “to get people involved and use it for a positive change…shifting the focus from hating to supporting.”

Whilst Facebook’s influence on society has already been proven with the success of Rage Against The Machine for the UK Christmas Number One 2009 campaign, the network’s revolutionary capabilities are limited. “Most groups with large numbers are not usually very serious ones,” Singh admits. “However, if you can easily reach tens of thousands with your message and crowd-source people while doing so, it indicates that you certainly have a chance to instigate change.”

Accumulating over 31,000 members in just ten days is encouraging, but how to progress from here? How can the reciprocal right to have one’s own cultural values and practices respected whilst respecting others’ cultural values and practices be successfully reinforced? “I would increase cultural sensitivity training both ways. For immigrants but also for Finns,” Singh suggests.

I suppose the real test will be to activate the group outside of Facebook. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will an international Finland, but we can start!

Daisey Cheyney