In the digital age, it is easier than ever to voice one’s support for a cause or raise awareness about a particular issue, all it takes is the click of a button.

In the wake of the recent devastating earthquake in Nepal, Facebook gave users the option to donate to the International Medical Corps’ relief efforts. According to a Facebook post by CEO Mark Zuckerberg, over $10 million was raised by the Facebook community — in just two days.

Social media provides a platform to quickly support a cause without exerting much — if any — personal effort. This phenomenon has been labeled as “clicktivism,” or “slacktivism,” and has been widely criticized for creating an impression of support, rather than actually accomplishing anything for the cause.

Many critics point out that clicktivism satisfies the urge to respond to an issue, thus reducing eagerness to take further action.

However, according to a study conducted by Georgetown University’s Center for Social Impact Communication and Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, the truth is quite the contrary. Researchers found that Americans who promote causes using social media by creating posts, joining a group on Facebook or taking other similar actions, actually participate more in offline activist efforts than non-social media promoters.

“The presumption was that these individuals were replacing more ‘meaningful’ actions with simple clicks and shares. But what we found is that they’re actually supplementing—not replacing— actions like donating, volunteering and planning events,” Senior Associate Dean and Executive Director of the Center for Social Impact Communication Denise Keyes was quoted in the research report.

The study showed that so-called clicktivists are over four times as likely than non-social media promoters to encourage others to contact political representatives about an issue, twice as likely to volunteer time to a cause, more than twice as likely to participate in an event or a walk and just as likely to donate money.

It is unlikely that every user who donated to relief efforts in Nepal dedicated himself or herself to volunteering and staying informed about progress in the nation. But whether or not clicktivists take action offline, sharing a post inherently increases visibility and raises awareness, regardless of the amount of effort (or lack thereof) exerted by the “sharer” or “retweeter.” It is possible that a certain user does not accomplish anything further after pressing “share,” but that user’s friend might be scrolling through their newsfeed and be inspired to do more. Although using a hashtag and retweeting a human rights organization does not necessarily equate to action, the importance of such actions in rallying support for global issues cannot be diminished.

It is not a new concept to use whatever tools necessary to mobilize supporters of a cause. Activism is a spectrum comprised of many levels of involvement and dedication. Whether it be signing a petition or putting money in a donation box while purchasing groceries, lower levels of commitment exist and have existed, regardless of their portrayal on the Internet.

Clicktivists should remember that while their online actions are definitely helpful, it should not suffice or constitute full-fledged activism. Therefore, clicktivists should push themselves to stay committed to issues that pique their interest. That is not to say that they should stop sharing, liking and retweeting. The benefits of those actions are immeasurable.

– Arin Kerstein

Sources: Daily O, Facebook, Daily O, Georgetown University, Daily O
Photo: Invisible Children

U.S. Congress could soon pass legislation to fast-track the embattled Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership (TPP), the Guardian reported Monday, a deal which has divided the Democratic party in the final months of Obama’s two-term presidency. One divisive factor of the controversial deal stems from language used in its chapter on Intellectual Property (IP), which some believe would curb internet freedom by restricting users’ access to copyrighted materials, while increasing penalties for doing so.

Internet freedom advocates argue that the changes made to intellectual property enforcement internationally will inhibit participating countries from enforcing their own, oftentimes shorter copyright terms, while additionally placing further controls upon the fair use exception to copyright law, which The Intercept explained allows individuals to “repurpose copyrighted material to make art or music.”

Negotiations of President Obama’s trademark, albeit controversial deal have been infamously secret, which is one reason prominent political figures from within the President’s own party have voiced their opposition.

On her website, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) hosts a petition to bring TPP brokerages out from behind closed doors where entities other than corporate lobbyists could access the deal that will affect international environmental policy, labor standards and regulations, as well as intellectual property standards and enforcement.

Pleas for transparency by Warren and her contemporaries were finally quelled by a May 14 Senate vote, which advanced a bill that would grant Obama, and future presidents, sole authority to negotiate the terms of the TPP, Bloomberg reported.

The TPP unites 12 countries with a combined 40 percent of the world’s economy, including some major economic players like Japan, South Korea and Canada, as well as developing countries such as Vietnam and Brunei.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a nonprofit which advocates for freedom of expression and innovation on the Internet, secured a draft of the TPP chapter on intellectual property containing language that would limit users’ “freedom of speech, right to privacy and due process, and hinder peoples’ abilities to innovate.”

Each participating nation will be forced to adopt the TPP’s standards for intellectual property online, which the EFF says goes beyond current U.S. law and lengthens the time an individual or corporation maintains ownership of copyrighted material.

It would also punish alleged copyright infringers by kicking them offline without due process through the termination of their ISP contract. Additional, harsher criminal sanctions, such as jail time without so much as a formal complaint from the copyright holder beforehand, are also a possibility under TPP parameters, the EFF reports.

The EFF also said TPP’s stance on trade secrets–forged as a “tactic to address cyber-espionage on the global stage,”–is nebulous on what exactly constitutes a trade secret, and also lacks any safeguards for journalists or whistleblowers who access information “without criminal or commercial intent.”

The inevitable result, EFF asserts, will be a chilling effect on free and uninhibited expression, which Harvard economist Amartya Sen argues is both the means and the end to development in underdeveloped countries.

Without transparency during the negotiation process, it is difficult to say exactly how restrictive TPP’s IP controls will be. But as of late last month, Sputnik International found that more than 2,354 websites and tech companies had called on users to contact their congresspersons in opposition to the TPP.

– Amanda Burke

Sources: The Guardian, EFF, First Look, Bloomberg, Sputnik News
Photo: Flickr

Importance of Technology Development
Technology is constantly developing and with its exponential growth there is much to look forward to in its role in ending world poverty.

“The effect of the Internet in broadening and enhancing access to information and communication may be greatest in poorer nations,” according to Harvard University. If developing countries gain more access to the Internet it can be a driving force to lift families out of poverty. The knowledge provided through the internet can maintain health, educate families, and open doors for boys and girls who are unable to attend school.


Technology Sparks Development


Another benefit the Internet offers for the poor is the ability to get microloans. Microloans give people the chance to start a business who cannot typically afford it. Businesses like SamaSource and Regent Park’s Access Microloan program have helped women to start catering businesses and finish their education. “SamaSource is an innovative social business that connects women and youth living in poverty to work opportunities via the Internet from Africa,” according to The Huffington Post.

Microloans are helping families and communities come out of poverty. When women have the capabilities to start up their businesses, they have the opportunity to invest their money in other areas in their lives. Children and communities benefit from flourishing women who are lifted out of poverty. Microloans sustain development in poor countries and expand economic growth.

The U.N. recognizes the benefits that internet access offers to developing countries. “Through both simple and sophisticated techniques, the Internet can help eradicate poverty, educate people, sustain the environment and create healthier populations,” says the U.N. As developed countries continue to progress in the field of technology, developing nations are falling behind.

However, access to the Internet is improving. Google has recently invested $1 billion in satellites to provide Internet access to people in developing countries. Along with Internet acess, businesses are also investing in mobile technology. Mobile banking services allow families to monitor their and better spend their money.

Technology is the golden ticket to achieving the goal of ending poverty by 2030.

– Kimberly Quitzon

Sources: Harvard, The Huffington Post, United Nations
Photo: SAP:Business Innovation

remote areas
Google has partnered with the French space agency, the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales, to provide rural and remote areas of the world with Internet access. The partnership aims to reach higher ground with the Project Loon initiative.

Project Loon is a Google research and development project with the mission of providing Internet access to rural and remote areas. The project uses high altitude balloons to create an aerial wireless network that project Wi-Fi signals.

The balloons are solar powered and each is coordinated to make movements in a complex formation to provide continuous service. Google’s new approach on these balloons involves using technology with powerful satellites. Powerful satellites will provide more responsive Internet for the balloons to harness and spread.

They rise more than 60,000 feet above the Earth’s surface, placing them far beyond the reach of airplanes and atmospheric storm systems.

Satellite Internet is already becoming faster and more inexpensive at a steady rate. About 1.5 billion people get home Internet through a satellite connection, though only 0.2 percent of people in developed countries are connected through satellite.

Google wants to launch 100,000 balloons into the stratosphere to offer free Internet access in remote and rural locations around the world, and retrieve them when they lose air and fall to the ground.

To date, there are 75 Google balloons airborne, hovering somewhere near the far reaches of the Southern Hemisphere. These balloons automatically regulate their altitudes according to the algorithms to catch wind drafts and keep them on path.

A majority of the world still lacks Internet access, even after the 1.8 billion people that joined the Internet in 2014. An astounding 4.4 billion people still have never been online.

Internet access can benefit those in developing countries, especially those in India, where the population has more mobile phones than sanitary toilets. In India, over 1 billion people are still offline.

Moreover, China’s massive population of 1.3 people may be iPhone-obsessed, but more than half of its population still remains disconnected.

The Internet can be a useful tool for farmers, as access to the Internet allows farmers to be updated on constant climate changes, and projected problems in the seasons that may affect crop growth. Moreover, Internet access can also be a useful education tool used in schools for learning, and it can improve literacy rates.

Google’s balloons may sound expensive, but research actually indicates that these balloons are cheaper than setting up and maintaining cell towers, and the balloons are also more effective to bring access to remote areas.

Although Google’s project has faced criticism and doubts along the process among Project Loon, Google notes that the next big step is testing how the balloons handle thousands of pounds of pressure.

Google’s engineers have spent weeks trying to isolate any problems they had in the past with the balloons that are already hovering over vast remote areas. Google has the potential to deliver its promise of Internet access across the world and to regions that have been without it with precise research and design.

Sandy Phan

Sources: Google, NPR
Photo: Digital Trends

future of the internet
While technology has been at the forefront of the fight against global poverty, The Future of Wireless International Conference in Cambridge, U.K. has promoted new ideas on this front. According to Cherie Blair, one of the keynote speakers of the conference, the internet has the ability to equalize the poverty gap between men and women.

As a non-profit organization, Cambridge Wireless is dedicated to finding new and innovative uses for technologies. Blair looks towards Africa as the future of the internet and as a new platform for mobile and internet technologies. While many African nations have skipped forming industrialized infrastructure straight to cell phones, the number of people who have access to internet via cellphones is still disproportionately swayed.

In a market of nearly 84 million cellphones, the depth of knowledge that the internet provides can help develop skills in the rural areas. For instance, the implementation of tablet computers in Malaysia by the Cherie Blair Foundation has been successful in merging technology with mentoring from around the world. This Foundation has created a network of support and resources for women in Malaysia.

The Cherie Blair Foundation’s goal is to help women achieve financial independence and therefore gain greater control over their lives and their families. The path towards achieving this relies heavily on a program of mentorship and financial capital to help these women become self-sufficient. Investing in women has a trickle-down effect for their children since women invest about 90 percent of their profits into their families.

While the Cherie Blair Foundation has been pioneering the use of technology for economic progress, they are not alone. Many foundations around the world are using leapfrogging technologies to help advance developing countries. Initiatives like the One Laptop per Child have helped invest in generations of entrepreneurs in developing nations.

The internet and cell phone applications bring the world closer together than ever before, and they can be used to relieve poverty more and more as technology progresses. With the possibilities to gather knowledge from online resources as well as connect to people worldwide, the internet enables greater development than before.

-Kristin Ronzi

Sources: Cambridge Wireless, Cherie Blair Foundation
Photo: Women News Network

is an online marketplace for consumers to purchase art and handmade crafts from global artisans. It is also a Certified B Corporation, meaning that the company operates as more than a profit-seeking business; it is a company that uses its power to solve social and environmental problems.

Etsy is not the only company focused on improving the lives of global artists. GlobeIn launched in 2013 to help connect local artisans to the global economy. Many artists featured on GlobeIn’s online marketplace may not even be familiar with the idea of the Internet, but they now have a way to expand sales of their crafts.

GlobeIn focuses its efforts in nine countries with regional managers, who oversee shipping and money transfers to the artisans. The website presents the story of the artists along with their products. The artisans decide the price of the items and they receive the full amount. GlobeIn’s local infrastructures are managed by regional directors, who help artists get their product listed on the online marketplace.

In contrast, Etsy users rely on the online marketplace to sell their crafts. Etsy was established in 2005 and continues to grow. The website hosts 875,000 sellers from all over the world, and the company is working on creating more international websites that operate in more languages to reflect the 147 countries of the sellers.

GlobeIn is a newer company—it was established in 2013—and caters to those who may not be able to use Etsy because of language barriers or lack of access to the Internet. Both companies are fighting global poverty by giving access to those who otherwise would not have access to the global online marketplace.

Both companies share a mission to connect local artists to the global community through an online marketplace. By giving these artists a platform on which to sell their crafts and goods, Etsy and GlobeIn help bring income to the artists and to make their stories known.

– Haley Sklut

Sources: Etsy, GlobeIn, Mashable, Venture Beat

Photo: WordPress

Sex trafficking exists in the United States. Sex traffickers target women and children with histories of addiction, abuse and even issues with debt and use manipulation to keep these victims trapped in the sex trafficking industry. The leaders in sex trafficking use violence and threats against the victims loved ones as means to force these victims to work against their own will. Accordingly, 83% of sex traffic victims are United States citizens. This issue is larger than most people realize and exists in the form of strip clubs, fake massage businesses, hostess clubs and even online escort services.

The internet is the number one center for sex trafficking in the United States. For example, pimps use websites like and even disguised as massage services to escort victims for services. Thus, these women are forced into sex trafficking at a young age mostly by older men. Most of the services that are offered on Craigslist are in the form of recruiting. Women post pictures of themselves and answer customer’s calls referencing the ads placed on Craigslist. These women are not willingly posting these pictures, but are in constant fear of their own lives. In addition, these pimps use not only force but the false promise of a better life and threats to harm the victims’ loved ones. Victims are coerced into trafficking by pimps posing as model scouts, or nannies and house maids being recruited and then captured by these sex traffickers.

Because trafficking is unique when based in the internet it has become extremely profitable and it is easier to reach a larger audience. Anyone can post ads on these sites and these ads can be seen by thousands of people in addition to being unnoticed by the police. The average age range these victims enter the sex trafficking industry is 11-15 and due to the vague description of age with words like “young,” these operations slip by unnoticed by authorities.

In addition, many women in places like Nigeria, Thailand, and other places suffering from global poverty are involuntarily forced into sex trafficking. The geological approach to sex trafficking shows high numbers of victims in areas stricken with poverty, as well as remote areas where women are more likely taken from to an area of global capitalization and tourism. These high traffic areas are promoted through the use of the internet and smartphones. Because of the accessibility to these websites, where a brothel can be located in under a minute generates high revenue for the owner.

Accordingly, President Barack Obama released a statement saying “We’re turning the tables on the traffickers. Just as they are now using technology and the Internet to exploit their victims, we’re going to harness technology to stop them.”

To illustrate the alarming statistics of this issue the US Department of Health and Human Services show that 90% of runaways end up in the commercial sex trade industry and in Tennessee 94 children are trafficked every month. Human Trafficking has become a larger issue than most realize and will be addressed accordingly to the advancement of technology.

– Rachel Cannon

Photo: CNN
End Slavery Tennessee, Polar is Project

When you think of robot drones, what is the first image or information that comes to mind? If you are like me, your brain probably imagined military drones patrolling the Middle East, gathering intelligence and firing missiles. This type of drone has become popular thanks to our recent military engagements and the push by drone manufacturers to utilize them for domestic law enforcement purposes.

Let us put these images of militarized drones aside and come back to a happy place where instruments are used for peace. This is precisely what U.S. technology companies are trying to do with their investments in drone manufacturers. Google made headlines when it announced its new adventure, Project Loon, which seeks to provide internet and network capabilities using balloons in the stratosphere.

Not to be outdone, Facebook, Inc. has plans to buy a drone manufacturer in hopes to use the high altitude crafts to send network signals to communities across the African continent. With two- thirds of the planet currently without internet, technology companies are now racing to conquer these untapped markets.

Facebook’s effort is a part of a larger project called Founded by Ericsson, Mediatek, Opera Software, Nokia, Qualcomm, Samsung and Facebook, the group believes in bringing internet to every person throughout the planet. The group, moreover, feels this is too much responsibility and too important a goal for one company or government to achieve alone.

Utilizing Facebook’s Connectivity Lab, groups of scientists and engineers are designing drone satellites that can fly over remote areas and send network signals to the people living there. Cruising at about 65,000 feet, Facebook estimates that a satellite-equipped drone can provide signal to a city-sized area of territory with a medium population density. Furthermore, solar panels will allow the drone to store energy during the day and use its batteries during the night.

Although this project is in its early stages, companies such as Facebook and Google are providing hope for the millions across the globe still stuck in poverty. A study by Deloitte illustrates the potential and value for internet connectivity. Out of the 4.7 billion people currently living without internet, a majority are in poor and many disadvantaged regions. The report estimates that economic activity as a result new internet connectivity could generate $2.2 trillion in additional GDP and 140 million new jobs.

The benefits of spreading internet technology around the globe are too great to pass up. While most governments are stuck in a state of austerity and can’t spend on research and development, private industry and non-governmental organizations are picking up the slack. With time and greater investment of resources, the world is poised to become more connected than ever.

– Sunny Bhatt

Sources:, Deloitte, Business Insider
Photo: Liberty Beat 

Google’s Project Link to Connect in Uganda
Google is joining the quest to bring parts of the developing world that are not yet online up to speed, and the parts that are, to a much faster speed. 
Google’s Project Link initiative will build fiber-optic networks to assist in connecting the last few billion people around the world to the internet.

Three million residents in and around Kampala, the capital of Uganda, will be the first to experience Project Link.

The country’s president, Yoweri Museveni, has publically shown disinterest toward developing technology. However, in the case of Uganda, the initiative is predicted to enhance the services of pre-existing providers, rather than create new ones.

According to Google, the city currently has what is described as “pre-broadband” speed, and “unreliable connections.”

Kai Wulff, Google’s Access Field Director, took to the company’s blog to explain how Project Link will strengthen the supply chain between undersea cables that deliver data to Africa and internet service providers.

Testimonials from Kampala residents, featured in a Project Link promotional video, cite the initiative as the way to encourage development, trade possibilities, and improve education. They describe it as being more than just a tool with which to grow business, but also as a vision of prosperity for Uganda.

Project Link is being compared to Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg’s initiative – another attempt to bring the developing world online.

Both Facebook and Google run the risk of appearing exploitative of new markets and ultimately pursuing profits under the guise of philanthropy. A possibility that does not seem far-fetched, considering only 16% of Africa’s population currently has Internet access.

However, the general consensus at the recent Transform Africa Summit, suggests that corporate motivations are not the primary concern for those invested in Africa’s development.

Government officials discussed the importance of public and private sectors working together – something that is evident in Rwanda, where the summit was held.

A successful example of this, is Korea Telecom’s heavy investment in Rwanda. The collaboration between corporation and country has even enabled a 4G broadband rollout to 95% of the population.

It seems Google is following suit. Project Link is not the only endeavor the multinational corporation has undertaken in Africa lately. Its navigation system has been slowly extended to multiple developing countries on the continent.

As of December, owners of Android phones in Somalia, Burundi, and Djibouti could access the voice-guided Google navigation system on their phones.

– Zoë Dean

Sources: Wired, Google blog
Photo: Occupy Corporatism

With the advancement of technology, the Internet has become vastly popular for the masses. The Internet brings along a phenomenon, social networking. Networking has never been easier since applications are developed to foster this phenomenon, and people can access the social media through many channels: computer, laptops, even on their smart phones. Below are 10 interesting facts about social media.

  • 56 percent of Americans have a social networking site.
  • 91 percent of mobile access is used for social networking.
  • More than 4.2 billion people use their mobile phones to accesses social networking site.
  • 230,060 years is the total amount of time the United States spend on social media.
  • 6.9 hours is the amount of time an average American spends on his/her social networking site in a month.
  • 22 percent of online time is accounted by social networking.
  • 40 percent of people socialize through networking sites over face to face communication.
  • 23 percent of Facebook users check on their account at least five times a day.
  • 20 minutes per day is how much time people spend on Whisper application for smartphone devices.
  • 400 million tweets is the average number of tweet being sent every day.

All the numbers are saying that social networking is becoming popular in the modern day and social networking is the most profitable way to reach wider range of audience with a limited budget. In other words, one might say that social media is the most effect marketing strategy. However, people tend to forget a more important matter, global poverty. To make a difference, a person only needs to make a 30 second phone call to his/her local senator or representative in the area, and it only take less than two minutes to post a link and express concern about international affair issues. Only one of us might not be able to make a difference, but with the combined force of society on social media, global poverty can gain a tremendous amount of attention not only domestically but globally.

– Phong Pham

Sources: t2Social, Media Bistro, Mashable, Telegraph, Slate, CNBC