Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Linkin are some of the more well known social media companies online that provide people with an outlet for news, to share, to vent, or to find like-minded people. And going forward, social sites will blur further as more sites offer social features. In fact, sites with forums have long been considered to offer social features.
One example we don't learn a lot of about is online petitions. I think they're a good way to rally support for an issue or a particular agenda. I like to point out two uses of online petitions that I found interesting.
The first is an English one which has over 100k petitioners in the UK suggesting that rioters found guilty of the London unrest should be denied welfare and benefits. It's harsh considering that the assumption is that the rioters all are on welfare. I reckon this is probably a right of center website. It's brilliant considering that it tried to capture the angry at the youth causing the mayhem.
Then there is this one: a petition serving as an effort to support LGBT teens by suggesting that Bert and Earnie get married already. It already has 8K signatures. Not the 100K that the UK petition got but its enough to get the media's attention.
Obviously, to those who started the petitions and their supporters, there are good examples of how to use petitions to help promote one's issue.
I think we probably will see more of these in the future. It is possible that these petitions would serve as a better way to gauge support than non-scientific polls many sites currently favor. Provided that the petitioners are real and not stuffed (which I think can easily be done).
Note: Sesame Street has this to say about Bert and Earnie on their Facebook: Bert and Ernie are best friends. They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves. Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics (as most Sesame Street Muppets™ do), they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation. (Yahoo News)