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Social Media Failing Somalia Famine Victims

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Why Social Media Fails Sometimes - Somalia in point.

Horrifying: 29,000 children under the age of 5 dead in the last 90 days alone in Somalia. 29,000 children, who most of us using social media have heard little about.

Why is it that social media becomes the tool of this fad or that fad, and even in an "emergency crisis" becomes the tool of the voices of the hurt, injured, missing? But in a slow crisis, something like the famine in Somalia, the images are roughly the same every day. The problems are only increasing.

But where is the outcry on social media like there was for the Chilean, Haitian, Japanese earthquakes and resultant disasters? Is this a racial thing because it is Africa? Is it a boring story because it seems "every other day" there is some story in the Western media about some country in Africa that is having yet another famine?

But 29,000 children under the age of 5 have died. Have you done anything to help? Have you used your social media influence to educate people about this slow burning crisis? Or has your social media use been of the more prosaic variety "I checked in at McDonalds with 3 other people." Kind of ironic that while some of us are checking into restaurants with the highest of technology, that at that very same instant some 5 year old just died because of starvation. This is definitely an inversion of un-intended consequences, but how far is this going to go?

Somalia is not out of the news; so that is not my point. In fact it is in the news often. The last few years we have seen story after story about Somalian piracy on the high seas. But now the story is this horrible famine. Obviously there are lots of websites set up to take in donations, organized by the non-governmental relief agencies like the International Red Cross and Unicef for example.

What role is social media playing in this famine? Is it helping or hurting? While there are lots of great fundraising and donation websites and applications available, it is my contention we are not seeing the type of action and influence we could be seeing out of social networks on this front. There does not seem to be a sustained twitter strategy to bring awareness to the starvation and famine in Somalia, and on Facebook it appears to be a weak effort as well.

What do you think?

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