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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Using Twitter to Raise Awareness: When Things Fall Apart

By now social media are probably the most popular way to spread word and raise support for causes. One of the ways this is frequently done is by adding badges to Twitter avatars. While this can be done to show who has donated, it is generally a very simple thing to add even for someone who has not donated.

Georgia Tech Professor Eric Gilbert has created a code that might change that. Called When Things Fall Apart, the campaign slowly destroys and then rebuilds Twitter avatars over the course of three days for anyone donating $10 or more to the Red Cross. The experimental campaign is part of a research project by Gilbert, who built the code with the help of a grad student, examining "Twitter mobilization through changing profile pictures in both organic and orchestrated campaigns." Gilbert says he is interested to find out "If we inject serious computation into this can we get people to pay money and send it to a worthy cause."

The Red Cross agreed to officially partner with Gilbert on the project, and so you are taken to a real Red Cross donation page. There is currently no expiration date, and he plans to have the campaign available for a long time. 

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