Protest Songs: How One Indie Artist Is Railing Against Facebook

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Have you ever heard of “Facebook jail?” No, it’s not a literal jail with bars and deputies and all that. But it’s a real issue that happens to real people, and often for no real reason.

Lou Dominguez, Facebook songBasically, when you do something “wrong” on Facebook, they’ll either limit your activities or disallow you access for a certain period. Worst-case scenario: They’ll straight-up cancel your account!

In the case of musician Lou Dominguez, he found himself in Facebook jail for doing the most basic and harmless of Facebook activities: sending friend requests.

On his website, he tells the story of how it seemed like a great idea to reach out and connect with more people on Facebook. So one day, he decided to start sending requests to the suggestions Facebook offered. In an ironic twist of fate, Facebook banned him from sending friend requests, calling his actions “harassment.”

Lou could have just thrown up his hands and accepted Facebook jail quietly. Instead, he used the tools at his disposal to express his frustration. He wrote a song about it, created a music video, and posted it on YouTube.

When I heard Lou’s story and saw his video, I wanted to find out more. So I reached out to him. Here’s what he had to say:

“I thought it might be too silly, but the whole situation is incredibly silly. They RECOMMEND people to friend, then you get in trouble for sending them a request. Pretty ironic.”

Lou went on to explain that it turned out to be a good addition to his new album, “We the People,” because it had potential to spur some conversation and raise awareness of this ridiculous side of Facebook – and, at the very least, resonate with fellow “Facebook Prisoners.”

“There are worse tragedies, sure, but I write about those as well, and this song serves a purpose on the CD. It lightens the mood after a couple of the more serious songs.” (Lou writes heartfelt songs that are often about current events. He even takes on the Newtown school shooting.)

Using Social Media to Vent

Lou’s video is another example of a growing trend to use social media to publicize a company’s aggravating antics. It’s a new take on the old adage “Don’t get mad, get even.” Musicians are in a unique position when it comes to protesting, as they already have a talent for entertaining and reaching out to an audience.

One of the more prominent corporate protest songs of recent years came from my friend Dave Carroll. He had a beef with United Airlines. They mishandled his Taylor guitar and ended up breaking it. Despite his many attempts to hold them accountable, United refused to replace it.

So Dave wrote and recorded “United Breaks Guitars,” which ended up getting over 13 million hits on YouTube alone. It has made for a lot of bad publicity for United Airlines, and it launched a new career for Dave as a public speaker who addresses customer service issues.

Protest songs can be a fun, effective way to get the word out about how a company or organization has done you (or someone else) wrong. It’s empowering and can be good publicity too, especially if your approach is thought-provoking and/or funny … and your video goes viral!

Companies are held accountable, you get new material to write about, and your fans get a new song to love. Occasionally, companies will even respond once they realize just how much they screwed up (although I wouldn’t hold my breath on Facebook responding to Lou).

What do you think of modern day protest songs? Do you have any other recent examples to share? I welcome your comments.


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