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Apple and Microsoft Take Different Approaches to Japan Relief

If you were trying to solicit donations for earthquake victims in Japan, what approach would you take? Take a look at how technology rivals Microsoft and Apple decided to handle this delicate situation.

First up, Microsoft. The company tweeted a plea on its Bing search engine Twitter account, offering to donate up to $100,000 for earthquake victims, but under one condition: that users would retweet the message, which would result in Microsoft increasing its donations by one dollar per retweet:

It’s straightforward enough, and sounds a lot like an offer we told you about yesterday from the nonprofit Explore.org, offering to contribute $1 for each Facebook “Like” of its “Dog Bless You” Facebook fundraising page received. That seemed to go smoothly yesterday, where we heard a few complaints but overall the reaction was positive.

Microsoft’s idea was not so well-received. Shortly after the company initiated its fundraiser, a backlash began, where some called the scheme a crass marketing attempt, and comedian Michael Ian Black told his 1.6 million Twitter followers in no uncertain terms that Microsoft should “stop using tragedy as a f***ing marketing opportunity.” The company soon withdrew the deal, offering instead to simply donate the $100K:

Next up, Apple. Instead of offering to contribute anything to the earthquake victims, Apple set up a special place(iTunes link) in its iTunes store, promising to deliver 100% of any donations to the Red Cross to benefit Japan. Apple’s iTunes donation page makes it as easy to help earthquake victims as it is to buy iTunes music, where as you can see, the suggested donations are in amounts of $5, $10, $25, $50, $100 and $200:

So that’s Apple’s technique — not to actually donate money, but to encourage everyone else to stop by the iTunes Store (and perhaps buy something else while they’re there), and help the poor souls laid low by the tragic quake and its ominous nuclear aftermath. Of course, Apple is donating something with this deal, because it’s not free to move boatloads of cash from one place to another.

What do you think of this, commenters? Should multibillion dollar corporations simply donate to these causes, should they try to get us involved, or should they just facilitate our donations? Are these crass attempts at capitalizing on horrific tragedy? Do nonprofits get a pass, as long as it doesn’t look like they’re self-promoting too much? Where do you draw the line?

*Source: Mashabe

Japan Quake and Tsunami: 7 ways to Help

While the devastating Japan earthquake and tsunami have passed, the recovery and mourning have just begun. The disaster could become the most expensive earthquake in history. The crisis could get even worse, depending on what happens next at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Now, more than ever, the Japanese people need our help and support to get through this crisis.

You don’t need to pack your bags and fly out to Japan to help, though. There are plenty of ways you can help online, whether it’s with your wallet or simply with your Twitter account. New technologies make it possible to lend a helping hand with your texts or even with virtual crops.

Every little bit counts. Here are a few ways you can help the victims of the Japan earthquake and tsunami:


1. Text to Donate


The American Red Cross has once again launched a texting campaign to raise money for relief efforts in the Pacific region. Last year, the Red Cross was able to raise over $20 million for Haiti relief through simple text donations.

If you would like to donate to the American Red Cross for Japan Earthquake Relief, just text REDCROSS to 90999. Each text will provide $10 towards the Red Cross’s humanitarian efforts.


2. Donate via Facebook


The Red Cross has also launched a campaign on Causes to raise at least $25,000 for relief efforts. By logging in to Facebook, you can donate anywhere from $10 to $500 to help Tsunami victims and their families.

As of publishing time, the Causes campaign has raised over $40,000 from over 1,000 donors and 3,000 promoters.


3. Buy Virtual Goods


Virtual sweet potatoes and the Japanese Tsunami may not seem related, but buying digital crops could help children affected by the earthquake.

Zynga, known for its effective social good campaigns, has partnered with Save the Children’s Japan Earthquake Tsunami Emergency Fund to get its users to donate money through the purchase of virtual goods in CityVille, FrontierVille, FarmVille and its other games.

100% of the proceeds from the purchase of sweet potatoes in CityVille, radishes in FarmVille or kobe cows in FrontierVille will go towards Save the Children’s efforts to provide relief in the Pacific. The world’s largest social gaming company is shooting to raise $2 million for relief efforts.

Zynga has raised millions of dollars over the last few years with these types of social good campaigns, most notably for the relief efforts in Haiti.


4. Embed Some Code


If you run a website and want to get your customers or users involved in relief efforts, all you need to do is embed a simple snippet of code.

The Hello Bar places a simple message at the top of your website with just a few lines of code. The service, which is in private beta, has decided to open its doors to anybody willing to help the victims of the crisis in Japan.

Simply sign up with the invite code “helpjapan” and you can quickly get the code snippet you need to embed a customized Hello Bar that will drive donations. Check out our full article for more instructions on how to add the donation bar to the top of your website.


5. “Like” a Facebook Page


The people over at Explore.org are donating $1 for every “Like” of the “Dog Bless You” Facebook page, up to $100,000.

Explore.org founder Charlie Weingarten delivered the challenge at South by Southwest yesterday. “Search and rescue dogs are a critical resource for emergency situations,” he told the audience.


6. Ways to Help on Twitter


Harness the power of your Twitter account to do some good for the people of Japan.

Earlier this morning, Twitter published a blog post detailing ways you can help with the relief efforts. Not only have they updated Japan’s mobile website with the latest information on the disaster, but they have also published a list of hashtags to tweet and/or follow related to the crisis.

Here are some key hashtags to remember:

  • #Jishin: focuses around general earthquake information
  • #Anpi: a hashtag for the confirmation of the safety of individuals or places
  • #Hinan: Evacuation information
  • #311care: a hashtag regarding medical information for the victims
  • #PrayforJapan: A general hashtag for support and best wishes for victims of the crisis

7. Donate via iTunes


Apple is also dedicating resources to the crisis in Japan. They have created a simple donation page in iTunes [iTunes link] that makes it simple to donate anywhere from $5 to $200 to the Red Cross with just a few clicks. — Source: Mashable

Help Japan: Facebook Click Helps Dogs Rescue Trapped Quake Victims

As you read this, victims of the tragic earthquake in Japan are waiting to be rescued under piles of rubble. Here’s a way for you to help them, and you barely have to lift a finger.

Explore.org founder Charlie Annenberg Weingarten, who’s also Director of the Annenberg Foundation, challenged the interactive community from the floor of the SXSW convention center, saying Explore.org will donate up to $100,000 to the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation. Its dog rescue team is on its way to Japan to help with earthquake search and rescue operations.

“Search and rescue dogs are a critical resource for emergency situations” says Weingarten. “There are many bootstrapped start-ups down here in Austin and plenty of people across America who want to help Japan in some way but don’t have the resources; we’re giving those people a chance to support with a simple social action”

Here’s where you come in: For every “Like” of the “Dog Bless You” Facebook page (#dogblessyou, #dogs4japan), Explore will donate a dollar up to $100,000. Get this: If the page gets 100,000 Likes by Sunday, March 13 at 2 a.m. EST, that dollar figure doubles, and Explore will donate $200,000. C’mon people, let’s help those quake victims!

*Source: Mashable

U.S. Government Wins Access to Twitter Accounts of WikiLeaks Supporters

(Mashable) — A federal judge today granted the U.S. government access to the Twitter accounts of three of WikiLeaks’s strongest supporters.

Earlier this year, the Department of Justice subpoenaed Twitter, asking the social media service to hand over information related to the Twitter accounts of WikiLeaks and some of its supporters. The subpoena targeted Birgitta Jonsdottir, Rop Gongrijp and Jacob Appelbaum, known for their support and contributions to the whistle-blowing website.

In a 20-page opinion, Judge Theresa Buchanan rejected the arguments of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union and attorneys representing the WikiLeaks backers, declaring that first and fourth amendment rights would not be violated by turning over Twitter account information to the government.

Buchanan did, however, make some of the case’s documents of the case public, though documents with “sensitive nonpublic facts, including the identity of targets and witnesses in an ongoing criminal investigation,” will not be included. Among the revelations from the unsealed documents: Twitter filed a motion last month requesting permission not to turn over data related to WikiLeaks’s official account, despite that WikiLeaks has made no objection to the government’s subpoena.

It’s unclear whether the order encompasses private messages sent by the WikiLeaks supporters. The government’s request for access is limited to content such as e-mail and IP addresses, but private Twitter messages could potentially come into play, which could spark another legal battle. The ACLU intends to appeal today’s ruling.

“Twitter’s policy is designed to allow users to defend their own rights. As such, Twitter will continue to let the judicial process run its course,” Twitter said in a statement to Mashable.

Social media shows power after Japan quake, tsunami and other global events

COMMENTARY | Being an early riser, it means I’m also asleep rather early and miss some things that happen overnight. My first news of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan came via Facebook at around 5 a.m.

The first post on my news feed said “Holy (expletive)! Wake up, look at Twitter. 8.9 magnitude. This is horrible” from my friend Rob. I immediately opened my Twitter and was shocked at the reports I was seeing. I follow several media organizations and as the reports rolled by, my eyes filled with tears.

There is no certain death toll yet from the 8.9 quake that led to the tsunami in Japan. As the waves rolled across the Pacific Ocean toward Hawaii and the U.S. West Coast, I worried about friends in those areas.

After offering prayers and thoughts to the victims in Japan, Twitter influencers began using the power of the tweet for a larger good. The first time I saw the “Text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 to the international relief fund for Japan” in my feed was mid-morning from chef and TV personality Andrew Zimmern.

The message spread quickly. Celebrities with hundreds of thousands of followers were sending the message: the Red Cross needs help. Other common trending terms and hashtags included #japan, #tsunami and #prayforjapan. They even managed to keep that #winner with #tigerblood off the trending list.

In this social media society, people around the world are connected quickly. Global-level events aren’t just left to the news networks to report. People in the midst of tragedy and those who care are intertwined by the power of 140 characters.

The tsunami is just the most recent case of Twitter spreading the word globally.

2011 Egypt Riots

In this case, the Egyptian government shut down access to Twitter as thousands of demonstrators took to the streets. While millions of tweets containing the #Jan25 hashtag continued to flow, Google and Twitter joined forces to create a telephone system that would translate message into text with the #egypt hashtag.

2010 British Student Protests

Students protesting higher university fees in London complained that their tweets were being suppressed. Their hashtag – #demo2010 – was continually pushed off of Twitter’s trending list and the company called the allegations “absurd.”

2009 Iran Election Protests

I wasn’t a part of the Twitterverse when the company delayed a system upgrade to allow student protesters to be able to continue sending messages. As the Iranian government moved to shut down the voices of dissent, the protesters took to their streams.

Note: This article was written by a Yahoo! contributor.

50 Cent joins “Gaddafi performance regret club”

March 10, 2011 2 comments

LONDON (Reuters) – U.S. rapper 50 Cent has joined what one entertainment website called the “Gaddafi performance regret club,” making a donation to charity after news emerged that he performed for the clan of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

“In light of the ongoing events in Libya, 50 Cent will be making a donation to UNICEF, which is providing vital relief supplies to meet the needs of women and children at risk during this crisis,” a spokesman for the artist told E! News.

50 Cent, whose real name is Curtis Jackson, joins a growing list of pop stars who performed for members of Gaddafi’s family at exclusive parties around the world, sometimes commanding seven-figure sums in the process.

The appearances have become a major source of embarrassment since the Libyan leader’s brutal response to a popular uprising against him in Libya.

Beyonce, Nelly Furtado, Mariah Carey and Usher have all issued statements saying they would donate or had already given money to charities after they appeared for the Gaddafi clan in recent years.

50 Cent did not name the amount of money he earned from a private concert given during the 2005 Venice film festival.

Media reports said that some artists were paid by Gaddafi’s family merely to attend the parties.

On the Twitter social networking website, Furtado said recently that she was paid $1 million for a 45 minute set before the Gaddafi clan in Italy in 2007.

(Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato)

Facebook’s New Anti-Bullying Tools Create a “Culture of Respect”

At today’s White House Conference for Bullying Prevention in Washington, D.C., Facebook is announcing a new suite of tools to protect users from bullying, foster a stronger sense of community in the social network, and “create a culture of respect” among Facebook users.

Facebook’s changes boil down to two main aspects: an improved safety center with more multimedia resources, and better, more social tools for reporting offensive or bullying content.

In addition to reporting harassing or TOS-violating content directly to Facebook, users now have two important options that are more social and more community-centric. Within the reporting options interface, the targeted user can choose to privately message the user who posted the stressful or offensive content. If the user wishes to report the content to Facebook, he or she can also choose to include a trusted authority figure, such as a teacher or parent, as a contact in that incident report.

As for the Safety Center upgrades, Facebook will be bringing “new educational videos, external resources from renowned experts, downloadable materials for people to share and discuss” and more resources within the coming weeks. The company is also asking teens to contribute feedback on smart, safe uses of technology.


How Facebook Developed Its New Anti-Bullying Tools


Arturo Bejas is Facebook’s Director of Engineering. In a phone conversation, he told us, “[Facebook] spent some time looking at reports we were getting in different categories. We take down content that violates our policies, but we also wanted to help people get support from someone in their lives… someone you trust who can help you deal with this in a way that’s constructive.

“We want this to be a learning experience where people learn how to deal with bullying and feel empowered.”

Bejas also noted that not all bullying content is intended to malign or harm the user on the receiving end. “In talking to safety advocates, we learned that a lot of these things are accidental,” he said.

“People post things they think are funny, but they don’t realize it’s stressful. There’s no malicious intent, and it might not violate the terms of service, but it still needs to be resolved.”


The LGBT Connection


The social network’s focus on anti-bullying tools has to a large extent been driven by Facebook’s partnerships with LGBT organizations since last fall’s tragic and highly visible string of gay teen suicides. These efforts began with a partnership with GLAAD and expanded to include a Network of Support, a group that counts such organizations as the Human Rights Campaign and PFLAG among its members.

Facebook Public Policy Communications Manager Andrew Noyes told us that after the Tyler Clementi and Billy Lucas suicides, “There was hightened awareness around LGBT bullying… We’ve certainly talked to our Network of Support and safety advisory board, and they’re very excited about these features.”

This announcement marks the first major changes to Facebook’s security and safety options since a Safety Center revamp last spring.

Stay tuned for more news from the conference, including how Formspring, an exciting startup that gets a bad rap for its users’ bullying behavior, is stepping up to the challenge and reducing bullying online. — Mashable