Clicktivism: Why social media is not good for charity


Every day on Facebook we see our friends liking or sharing charitable causes. Sure it must make them feel good but there's long been a question mark over what liking a cause actually does for those on the receiving end.

Almost all of us have done it. A click here, a like there. Maybe hitting follow to a cause that's been mentioned by a celebrity.
The warm, fuzzy feeling that your Facebook friends can see you stand for something, that you're drawing attention to big issues.
But no - it doesn’t really work like that.
Not according to a new study that says that so-called "slacktivists" are precisely the sort of people who don't help change anything.
The debate about the value of online activism came in the wake of the Arab spring.
Some attributing sweeping social change in countries such as Eqypt, to the powers of social media.
But others have used campaigns like Kony 2012 to argue that it spawned meaningless actions of change over social media
"The way we define slacktivism is when the consumer is willing to make small tokens of support," says Kate White from the University of British Columbia. "When the small act of token support is very public in nature and people can kind of signal to others that they have already helped the cause they actually arent more likey to help later."
What the research says is that public displays of support like pins and stickers and Facebook 'likes' make us feel like job done we can take it easy.
When in actual fact it's always time and money that gets anything done - not raising awareness.
Take two huge awareness campaigns: Pink ribbons for breast cancer and Movember for prostate cancer.
Despite the efforts to increase public awareness, even though 95 per cent of women agree that a breast screen could save their life just one-in-two women aged between 50-74 don't follow the recommended mammogram checks
Similarly only 41 per cent of men aged 40-74 have been tested for prostate cancer in the last 12 months, despite those same men saying that it's the important health issue facing them.
This is despite all the moustaches and all the pink ribbons you see, in the street and across social media
The ineffectiveness of online awareness campaigns are causing some charities to get tough about the way they get their message across.
The world's largest petition platform,, agrees that clicktisim stops further engagement.
A Yale study showed that door-to-door political campaigning and phone calls with the candidate are the best ways to win votes.
It dismisses social messages that are not personalized and lack that level deeper of engagement.
There's a lot of causes vying for your support and it's hard to feel like you can make a difference.
The key is to choose one or two you care about rather than liking 20 on Facebook.
And supporting those charities with your time and money offline as much as you do online.

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