Posts tagged with "WhatsApp"

Compassionate texting system enables you to exchange kind messages with frontline heroes

May 22, 2020

As armies of courageous healthcare workers continue to help Americans to combat the COVID-19 crisis, an ingenious startup service is enabling those of us who are sheltering in place to exchange unconditional messages of love and support with frontline heroes, the Good News Network (GNN) reports.

The #Text For Humanity switchboard, created by telecommunications provider Sinch in partnership with Mental Health America (MHA)originally launched in January to combat online negativity and promote the sharing of positive messages between strangers.

To date, GNN reports, more than 83,000 messages of positivity have been exchanged across 85 countries.

As the world moves into the next phase of the crisis, #TextForHumanity now enables people choosing to participate to identify themselves as either a frontline worker, or someone living in isolation. In turn, senders can choose the group they would like to send a personalized message of thanks and support. Frontline workers include anyone from nurses and doctors to delivery drivers and grocery store staffers—people performing the vital jobs that are keeping society going.

There is no charge for the service; neither Sinch nor MHA profits from #Text For Humanity.

However, MHA’s screening numbers have been growing since the start of the pandemic. MHA has seen a 70% increase in the number of people taking an anxiety (GAD-7) screen and a 64% increase in the number of people taking a depression (PHQ-9) screen between January and April.

“These are worrying times for many people and psychological well-being is severely impacted,” said Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO of Mental Health America. “Prolonged isolation can increase incidences of poor mental health, particularly for the most vulnerable in society. And then there’s the incredible burden placed on brave frontline workers. People putting their own lives at risk while saving others, and keeping society safe and functioning. We see Text For Humanity as an important route to engage them.”

Text For Humanity is now enabled by WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and regular text messaging—so it’s easy for anyone with even the most basic phone to join. This is particularly important for the elderly who are among the least likely to own a smartphone.

To join the service, text JOIN to 37352 (U.S. only) or +1 833-421-4726 (additional international number options and links to WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are available through the platform’s website). The service will ask for a couple of simple details including whether you are a frontline worker or living in isolation. As before, all data is stored securely, and no personal or identifying details will be known or shared.

You can then write a short message that gives a frontline worker or someone in isolation a smile. Once you’ve sent the message, Text For Humanity will share it with a fellow human somewhere in the world. Not only that, you will then receive a positive message from a stranger on your own phone. Messages you receive can also be transformed into vibrant and personalized artwork that can be easily shared from a smartphone on social media.

The service is currently run in English language only. You can opt out at any time by simply replying STOP to the service, says GNN.

Research contact: @goodnewsnetwork

Co-founders of Instagram to step down

September 26, 2018

Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, the co-founders of the photo-sharing app Instagram, have resigned and plan to leave the social media platform in the coming weeks, according to a September 24 report by The New York Times.

The company, launched in 2010, has been a subsidiary of Facebook since 2012, when Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg acquired it for $1 billion in cash and stock. Since then, Instagram has grown substantially—with more than 1 billion monthly users now logging on to the image- and video-sharing giant.

Systrom and Krieger did not give a reason for stepping down, according to insiders with knowledge of the situation. In a public statement released late on September 24, Systrom said he and Krieger were “ready for our next chapter,” and hinted broadly that they would create another innovative business.

“Building new things requires that we step back, understand what inspires us and match that with what the world needs; that’s what we plan to do,” he said.

Zuckerberg praised the Instagram founders in a statement and said that he wished them “all the best and I’m looking forward to seeing what they build next.”

However, industry scuttlebutt supports the notion the Zuckerberg, himself, may be the reason for their departure. Based on a report by MSN, Systrom and Krieger, “had been able to keep the brand and product independent [for much of the past six years] while relying on Facebook’s infrastructure and resources to grow. Lately, they were frustrated with an uptick in day-to-day involvement by Zuckerberg, who has become more reliant on Instagram in planning for Facebook’s future, said [the insiders], who asked not to be identified sharing internal details.”

According to the Times report, Facebook has lost other founders of businesses it has acquired. In April, Jan Koum, a Facebook board member and a founder of WhatsApp, the messaging app that the social network purchased in 2014, said he was leaving. Koum had grown increasingly concerned about Facebook’s position on user data in recent years, people with knowledge of the situation said at the time.

In Silicon Valley, reaction to the Instagram founders’ resignation was swift, the Times reported.“Wow,” tweeted John Lilly, a venture capitalist at Greylock, calling the exits “a real moment.” He added, “What an impact they’ve had on all of us.”

The departures of the co-founders now create uncertainty at the company. It is unclear who will take the lead and if that person can continue Instagram’s longstanding success streak.

Marne Levine, who was previously Instagram’s COO, left her role at Instagram earlier this month to return to Facebook and lead partnerships, the Times noted.

Research contact: Mike.Isaac@nytimes.com

Among social media users, Facebook rules

March 14, 2018

Facebook remains America’s most popular social media platform, with roughly two-thirds of U.S. adults (68%) self-identifying as users and about 75% of them catching up with their “friends” at least once a day, based on findings of a poll by The Pew Research Center released on March 1.

With the exception of those 65 and older, most Americans across a wide range of demographic groups now use Facebook, the poll of 2,002 Americans over the age of 18 concluded.

Only YouTube gets more traffic, with 73% of respondents noting that they visit the site regularly. The video-sharing site—which contains many social elements, even if it is not a traditional social media platform—is now used by nearly three-quarters of U.S. adults and 94% of 18- to 24-year-olds.

In line with that trend, some 78% of 18- to 24-year-olds use Snapchat—whether or not Kylie Jenner loves it anymore—and a sizeable majority of these users (71%) visit the platform multiple times per day. Similarly, 71% of Americans in this age group now use Instagram and close to half (45%) are Twitter users.

Of course, that’s not counting President Donald Trump, whom Fox News says has given Twitter “a big boost.” He even fires his high-level employees via the platform—which he used on March 13 to oust Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and install CIA Director Mike Pompeo in his place.

Several other platforms are popular among special interest groups, including:

  • Pinterest, which remains substantially more popular among women (41% of whom say they use the site) than men (16%).
  • LinkedIn, which continues to be especially popular among college graduates and those in high-income households. Some 50% of Americans with a college degree use LinkedIn, compared with just 9% of those with a high school diploma or less.
  • WhatsApp, a messaging service that is particularly popular in Latin America, and this following extends to Latinos in the United States—with 49% of Hispanics reporting that they are WhatsApp users, compared with 14% of whites and 21% of blacks.

Finally, the share of social media users who say these platforms would be hard to give up has increased by 12 percentage points compared with a survey conducted in early 2014. But by the same token, a majority of users (59%) say it would not be hard to stop using these sites—including 29% who say it would not be hard at all to give up social media.

Research contact: tcaiazza@pewresearch.org