When Online Movements Deliver Positive Change

As a movement dedicated to protecting the Internet and demanding that world leaders end cyberwarfare, we’re well aware that malicious acts online can cause serious problems offline. But can charitable acts in cyberspace deliver positive change in a tangible way? Over the years, the Internet has become the tool of choice for people looking to inspire others to take positive action. From online petitions to web-based fundraisers and cyber events, there are many ways in which acts of goodwill in our digital world can improve our physical world. That’s why, today, we’re looking at moments when online movements have delivered positive change.

The Youth Climate Movement – Founded 2005

To see how young activists can organize in massive numbers to raise awareness about an issue, look no further than the Youth Climate Movement. Also known as the International Youth Climate Movement, it is a collective of international youth organizations dedicated to empowering young activists to take meaningful action against climate change. Many people are aware of the massive global protests they’ve organized offline, like the School Strike for Climate, but the movement also recognizes the true potential of the Internet. From flooding #ClimateStrikeOnline on social media platforms to hosting video discussions about climate change, the Youth Climate Movement has leveraged online tools to effectively boost the numbers, energy, and momentum of their members and bring attention to a global issue.

#GivingTuesday – Founded 2012

In 2012, New York City-based non-profit cultural and community center 92nd Street Y and the Washington, DC-based United Nations Foundation launched Giving Tuesday. This annual celebration falls in late November on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, building on the US holiday’s focus of gratitude and togetherness. It also falls near the biggest US shopping days of the year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, when, in light of the upcoming holiday season, many Americans are particularly generous. On Giving Tuesday, individuals and organizations are encouraged to donate money or time to causes they care about. When the celebration was pushed online with #GivingTuesday, the initiative spread like wildfire. Last year alone, Giving Tuesday helped raise over $2 billion in donations to US nonprofits.

Miracle Message – Founded 2014

The Internet doesn’t only offer the opportunity to connect with new people, it also provides the chance to reconnect with loved ones. For those facing homelessness, reconnecting with family can make the difference between having a place to stay or not. With this in mind, US-based social entrepreneur and advocate, Kevin Adler launched Miracle Message—a non-profit organization that leverages technology and community to help the homeless with family reunifications. The organization’s volunteers record videos of homeless people sharing messages with their loved ones, then circulate the clips to the greater Miracle Message online community. The organization’s community has already reunited over 450 individuals across the United States.

Love Army for Somalia – Founded 2017

In 2017, Somalia faced one of its worst droughts in decades, resulting in more than half of its citizens being left in desperate need of food assistance. When French Vine and Snapchat influencer Jerome Jarre told his followers he had a crazy idea, “What if we could convince Turkish Airlines to let us use one of their flights to Somalia? And fill it with food!” Jarre created the #TurkishAirlinesHelpSomalia campaign, which sparked widespread online action, even drawing support from US actor Ben Stiller and former NFL player and civil rights activist, Colin Kaepernick. This online movement of citizens, celebrities, influencers, and athletes formed a crowd-funding campaign called, “Love Army for Somalia.” The newly formed “Love Army” was a success, raising millions of dollars to send over 1,000 tons of food to the country in need.

Shelters for Rohingya Refugees – Founded 2017

Rohingya Muslims, an ethnic minority in Myanmar, have faced decades of persecution in the Rakhine State. In August 2017, a violent crackdown by the Myanmar army resulted in hundreds of thousands of Rohingya civilians fleeing to Bangladesh. When the news story broke, digital citizens worldwide came together to raise both awareness and money to help build housing for these refugees. The online movement quickly gained momentum, sweeping up notable figures like French Turn Down For What? Producer/ DJ William Grigahcine (aka DJ Snake) and Humans of New York’s Brandon Stanton, ultimately raising several million dollars for the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

Want to give a shout-out to another online movement that changed the world for the better?  

Let us know on Twitter with the hashtag #DigitalPeaceNow.