Tyrannybook was born as part Amnesty International’s plan for 2010 of getting more involved in social networks, both to gain the visibility inherent to these web platforms, and to facilitate the contact between the causes it promotes and the public. The network aims to generate a global consciousness about the countless atrocities that take place across the globe.
As the name implies, the website is a Facebook clone, and looks almost exactly the same, with the familiar blue giving way to an aggressive red.
Using a following system, the users can be updated about the faults committed by those leaders against the Human Rights. It’s up to each user to decide which leaders they are most interested to watch. The profiles of the tyrants are released by Amnesty, and can be updated both by the organization itself and by the users.
For now there are ten tyrants in the site: Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan, Kim Jong Il of North Korea, Than Shwe of Myanmar, Hu Jintau of China, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, Thomas Lubanga Dyilo of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Radovan Karadzic of Serbia, Aleksandr Lukashenka of Belarus and Ramzan Akhmadovich Kadyrov of Chechnya.
Inside the Tyrannybook all their actions are reported through news articles, with a link to the source.
Between them, users can become allies (the equivalent of friends on Facebook), exchanging points of view and discussing current issues. Much like Facebook, it’s possible to create groups, events, and upload videos and pictures.
The homepage shows a News Feed displaying all the activity on the site, from all the users. I believe this should be tweaked to only show updates from allies and the tyrants one is watching.
This is a very interesting way of approaching the problem that Amnesty is faced with. It’s not that this information is not already available in lots of other places, but keeping everything in the same place and wrapping it in something familiar to a huge number of people might be a powerful way of raising awareness to the task at hand.
There’s not a lot of functionality on the website, and it will be interesting to see how it evolves as more users sign up. One thing is for sure, people will try to abuse the system. At the time of writing, there is a user in the site that calls himself George Obama as a reference to both George Bush and Barack Obama. This user is also using a picture of George Bush tinted red (like the pictures of the tyrants). There’s also a group for the president of F.C. Porto (also tinted red) and a few other groups for completely unrelated subjects. If the site grows a lot, which is the whole point of it, the admins will have a hard time getting rid of all the abusive behavior.
Check out the promotional video that also serves as a guide through the website:
It was the happiest day of my Facebook-life when the possibility to hide applications from the news stream was added.
Since then I’ve been able to get rid of all the crap app/quiz/game that kept showing up on the screen. And a lot of it was from a single game – FarmVille. If only I had been shown this video, I might have been convinced to play it…
And while you’re at it, check out the parody commercial for MafiaWars. This one I do play, but only due to my OCD (“obsessive completion disorder”), because I’m sick of the damn thing. The enjoyment is as big as the video shows…
The geek in me just gave a few good laughs at these screen shots of what Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Darth Vader, Chewie, C-3PO and other Star Wars characters would write on their Facebook walls.
And if you haven’t seen it before, here’s another Facebook parody – The Facebook of Genesis.