The internet is one avenue of technology that is having a massive impact on how communication of information takes place between individuals, groups, and large organizations and has the potential to help great social changes. “Information technology” usually brings to mind computer developers, entrepreneurs, digital marketing strategists, venture capitalists, Crypto-Currency trends, and start-ups. “Social media” is associated with endless selfies, memes, Buzzfeed quizzes, health fads, and a mass of pictures posted including pets, babies, and food. It is uncommon to think of technology as a platform for creating social betterment, modification of public behavior, or large institutional shifts. However information technology as a whole has a continuous influence over social behavior. Technological improvements increase the amount and availability of information, more information leads to changes in social trends and increasingly useful technology – and thus information, social change, and technology continue to increase exponentially.
Online platforms are communication tools directly accessed by 2 billion people daily to learn about the world around them. This wide reach impacts almost every person on the planet even if only indirectly. When used in innovative ways, information technology and social media can be catalysts with which massive social shifts take place, increasing general public education, impacting political changes, creating new jobs, and even helping people feel more compassionate toward others. These online campaigns are popping up, growing, shifting and changing. In a continuing blog series Amadeus Consulting will be exploring technology for social change and the impact these efforts are having.
Here is a roundup of a few current examples of great social change efforts being made through technology and the world of social media:
Since 2011 Facebook has created a team of brilliant minds that collaborate to create a gentler internet. Combining the efforts of sociology and psychology, experts on this team are helping 3.9 million people work toward resolving Facebook related disputes every week. The goal of this team is to empower Facebook users to have “more meaningful and authentic dialogue” through addressing the user experience process of expressing concern about other people’s posts.
Changes made by this team are done to promote users identifying what it is that they are feeling and directly expressing their discomfort due to content posted by others. This is done in order to encourage dialogue between the two individuals and motivate the poster to remove this content. According to Facebook, 90% of the time the poster had no malicious intent behind content they have posted, and only 10% of posters have reported that they made a post to “prove a point” or “provoke others.”
Facebook is also the only social networking platform thus far to have integrated anti-bullying efforts into the basic structure of Facebook’s software through the Bullying Prevention Hub.
Interested in learning more? Check out this blog to learn about Facebook’s compassion work.
OKCupid’s recent attempt to protest Firefox’s CEO’s anti-gay-marriage stance
OKCupid (OKC) is an online dating site that recently used a pop-up to urge FireFox users to switch browsers to protest Mozilla CEO Bredndan Eich’s support of an anti-gay California ballot measure. When accessing OKC while using Firefox, users were greeted by a pop up: “Mozilla’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples. We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid.”
OKC’s popup since has been taken down. Whether or not this popup had any positive impact on increasing gay marriage rights or sending a strong message to Eich of course remains unknown. See the full popup message below.
To learn more about OKC’s attempt at social change check out Mashable’s updates here.
TechChange.org – The Institute for Technology and Social Change
TechChange is a startup in Washington DC that began as a group of “socially conscious nerds” that are now a well formed organization working to close the great divide between those who create tech tools and those who are deeply in need of them. This team has renovated the usual approach to online tech courses to be both more user friendly and more socially and globally oriented. There are over 3000+ TechChange students and alumni from 100+ countries utilizing technological tools and processes to address social, cultural, and global challenges. TechChange states that their students have come from organizations such as United Nations, World Bank, USAID, UNICEF, Red Cross, US State Department, Harvard University, and many more.
June 16th 2014 TechChange will begin a Social Media for Social Change course!
Interested in learning from TechChange? Find more info about their classes here.
Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN)
NTEN is a membership based organization that provides nonprofits with answers to all of their technology related questions so that these organizations can more efficiently and competently meet the needs of the communities they are serving. Often non-profits only have one IT professional on staff and these individuals rely heavily on outside expertise to stay on top of technology changes and to make this information accessible or even relevant to the rest of the nonprofit.
To see more about how nonprofits benefit from NTEN, check out them out here.
Meetups for Tech and Social Innovation
Meetup.com is used by people of all types to meet others with similar interests, hobbies, and passions. Through Meetup tech professionals are able to meet to share their knowledge to help others in myriad ways:
Live With Design is a socially conscious Meetup group in NYC that encourages “changemakers” and entrepreneurs to collaborate. A recent Meetup of theirs presented challenged members to design New York State’s first patient portal for the public to securely access their health records online. The winning design is set to be chosen by New Yorker’s with $25,000 in prizes available.
Technology & Social Change Baltimore hosts its Meetup to share IT expertise with support nonprofits to support community outreach, volunteering, fundraising, and web related development. Topics range from Google Ad Grants (providing $10,000 per month for nonprofits to advertise through Adwords) to social media analytics and CRM systems.
Start your own Meetup here!
For better or worse, technology trends are making significant shifts to social behaviors through online campaigns. If utilized wisely, information technology can be a way in which a more socially just world is created. The more information and education made available to society through technology, the better communication becomes and the more potential there is for social problems to be solved. Take a look at how we at Amadeus Consulting participate in creating sustainable and ethical tech culture and community involvement here. Stay tuned for more “Tech and Social Change” blogs to come in this ongoing series!