Sure, Twitter is aflutter with news of Kim Kardashian's divorce and Justin Bieber's baby mama, but 140 characters can be used for much more than commiserating over celebrity drama. Twitter can have a significant social impact.
At least, that's the message of Twitter Stories. A new site launched this week highlights the triumphs of social media with stories of small businesses saved, missing children found, and organs donated -- all because of a few tweets.
Twitter users are invited to contribute to the site themselves by sharing their own stories with a mention of @twitterstories or #twitterstories in a tweet. The site will be updated periodically to include the most inspiring of users' offerings.
Click through the slides below to check out Twitter's powerful potential:
Aaron Durand, or @EverydayDude, decided to take action when he discovered his mother's independent bookstore, Broadway Books, was going out of business. He tweeted the story of the store's falling sales, and almost immediately business started looking up. His expert handling of the site even landed him a job at Twitter.
When Faisal Fri, 16, went missing from his home last April in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, the Twitter world mobilized. After Mohammed Al Modhayan, or @Modhayan, launched the first tweet, a virtual search party was born. The #FaisalDH hashtag, an image of the boy and contact information for his family began to trend almost immediately. Faisal was found after only three hours.
In response to personal experiences with sexual harassment in Cairo, Egypt as well as her work with the Egyptian Center for Women's Rights, Rebecca Chiao partnered with Engy Ghozlan, Amel Fahmy, and Sawsan Gad to create HarassMap. The site maps reports of sexual harassment and assault from tweets at @harassmap to expose the frequency of assault while maintaining the anonymity of its victims.
When Chris Strouth's three-year struggle with a kidney disease suddenly took a turn for the worse, Strouth needed a transplant. Strouth resorted to an alternative methods of finding a donor: he tweeted "Sh*t, I need a kidney." He got replies instantly, Strouth told Citypages, one of which was from an out of touch friend, Scott Pakudaitis, who happened to be a match.
Free Arts NYC provides educational arts programs to needy children and families across the city, but funding can run a little short in these money-tight times. So the organization used an innovative strategy to boost their budget. They launched a five day Twitter campaign with Keds: the shoe company pledged to match each tweet mentioning #KedsHDYD_NYC with a $1 to an art mentoring program.
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