Tag Archives: twitter

Tweeters re: Cuba development & ICT4D

A follow-up to my post yesterday, about my visit to Cuba last month and a review of Internet access / digital literacy in Havana. I’m compiling a list of Twitter accounts relating to Cuba, particularly regarding human, community and environmental development issues and ICT4D. So far:

  • @ONU_Cuba – Sistema de Naciones Unidas en Cuba (various United Nations agencies in Cuba)
  • @FAOCuba – Noticias e información sobre alimentación, agricultura y lucha contra el hambre compartidas por la Representación de la FAO en Cuba
  • @cubaperiodistas – La Unión de Periodistas de Cuba agrupa a los profesionales de la información y se creó el 15 de julio de 1963.
  • @AcnuUnacuba – ONG cubana sin fines de lucro. Defendemos y divulgamos principios y la Carta ONU. Tenemos Status consultivo ante ECOSOC.
  • @ETECSA_Cuba – Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba S.A. Fundada en 1994. Operador de servicios de telefonía Fija, Móvil y Datos.
  • @MINCOMCuba – Las Comunicaciones al servicio de la sociedad
  • @CubarteNews – Music, dance, painting, theater, the extraordinary, dynamic, intense Cuban cultural setting.
  • @CubanSP – Cuban Partnerships, Hosting #BroadcastCuba2015 in Havana for #broadcast #telecom #radio #TV professionals.
  • @economistacuba – El Economista de Cuba
  • @fossworkshopCub – Foss Workshop Cuba (hasn’t been updated since 2015)
  • @tinamodotti71 – Cubana, periodista y editora del portal www.cubasi.cu
  • @cimarron61 – Rafel Campoamor, ciberactivista por el empoderamiento ciudadano a través de las TICs en Cuba y el Tercer Mundo. Bridging the digital divide. Empowerrment through ICT.
  • @InformaticaHab – Evento internacional del sector TIC con mas de 20 ediciones celebradas, tiene lugar en La Habana, Cuba cada dos años. Also @InformaticaHav.
  • @ffxmania – Firefoxmanía, comunidad de Mozilla de Cuba
  • @BloghumanOS – humanOS surgió para contribuir al fomento del uso del software libre en Cuba.

Feel free to add to this list! You can add such in the comments, or tweet me at @jcravens42

How Daesh (ISIS/ISIL) uses Twitter – update on resources

logoI’ve been updating a blog I wrote earlier in December about communications activities not just to create awareness, but to persuade, to change minds, and to create advocates. There’s a new resource there regarding how Daesh (ISIS/ISIL) uses Twitter to create trending hashtags, and new info about an Islamic-based effort to counter Daesh’s messages. Check it out!

Internet tools needing improvement

There are a lot of software applications – apps – I use regularly – and some that I’m using less-regularly, because of “improvements” by developers. So many apps are becoming so poorly-designed that they are becoming unusable, yet I read about many of these companies whining about how many users they’ve been losing.

So let me do you a favor, designers: here’s more than a dozen ways that the apps I use regularly – and millions of others use regularly – really, truly could be improved:

  • Flickr – Bring back the narrative slide show view. Yes, most people just look at photos, and look at them on their smart phones. But there are a lot of us who want to see the narrative too – not every photo is self-explanatory.
  • Facebook – So many changes needed:
    • Make adding and removing people from lists as easy as adding and removing people from circles on GooglePlus. Right now, it is SO hard to do. And there’s no “at a glance” way to see who is one which list. I would use Facebook oh-so-much more if the lists were easier to use.
    • Make it possible to put Facebook pages into lists. I would love to be able to put causes I really love, and want to follow, on a list, so I could look just at that list sometimes.
    • Make it possible to delete smart lists from a person’s view of lists – I have a company listed on my account that I have NEVER worked for. I have no idea how it got there, but there’s no way for me to remove it! It looks like I worked there – but I never did.
    • Create a blog space for users the way MySpace used to have. I could create a blog that someone could view WITHOUT being a member of MySpace – but the only way for someone to comment it on it unless they were signed in. You would end up taking market share from Tumblr and Medium and so many blog spaces if you did that.
  • Twitter:
    • Make it possible to view lists I create, as well as the list of accounts I follow and the list of those that follow me, viewable however I want (alphabetical, oldest to newest, etc.)
    • Keep it simple! That’s the beauty of Twitter! Please stop trying to be like Facebook. I connect with people and organizations I really need to know, even get job leads, from Twitter – that NEVER happens on Facebook. You are going to ruin Twitter if you keep “adding” Facebook features.
  • YahooGroups, formerly my favorite app:
    • Please, please, please go back to non-threaded discussions. You’re threaded way of doing things have killed discussions on most of the groups I’m on.
    • Create a fee-based service for users who don’t want ads on their groups, including no ads in emails generated by messages on the group. I will HAPPILY pay that fee! So would many, many thousands of other users!
  • Google
    • regarding GoogleGroups: go look at YahooGroups from 2002 or so – if your interface looked more like that, you’d still massive numbers of users from not only Yahoo, but from various online collaboration web sites as well.
    • GoogleCalendar: Please reconsider your decision to stop sending calendar updates via SMS! I don’t always have great Internet access. And there are LOTS of people that still use feature phones that don’t have apps. We need our SMS reminders!
  • iTunes – STOP BEING STUPID. Instead, start beta-testing your interface with non-software developers, as well as people over 25. I am not a stupid person, and yet, it takes me way too long to figure out how to add a song to a playlist, how to remove one, how to play just one album, and on and on.

Those are my ideas. Get right on that, ‘kay?

Taking a stand when you are supposed to be neutral/not controversial

handstopSo many people responsible for communications at nonprofits, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), government programs and international development agencies like the United Nations do their work from a place of fear: fear of negative publicity, fear of reprimand from supervisors or partner organizations, fear of controversy, etc. One of the consequences of this fear-based work style is that these communications professionals overly-censor themselves on social media, avoiding messages that relate directly to their program’s mission, simply because they don’t want to make anyone angry.

It’s impossible to work in communications and not make anyone angry. Impossible. While I think it is very important to be culturally-sensitive/appropriate in communications, the reality is that the work of most mission-based organizations is meant to grow understanding and change minds – and that means, at least sometimes, being challenging, even provocative. I long ago accepted that not everyone is going to like the messages of whatever program I’m representing, even messages that seem quite benign and non-controversial to me. As long as I make all messages reflective of the mission of the program, and ensure all messages come from a place of sincerity and honesty, I make no apologies.

If you want to post a message to social media that promotes something that relates to your program’s mission, but you want to keep negative responses to a minimum – or have a solid response to anyone who complains about such a message, including a board member or donor, here’s what you do: find the message you want to say on your headquarter’s Facebook or Twitter account, or a partner organization’s account, and share it or retweet it.

Here’s an example: I’ve had colleagues at the UN say, “We cannot talk about rights for gay people. It will make too many people angry.” Yet, the UN has a human rights MANDATE that includes rights for gay people. So, what could an office in such a position do in order to promote that human rights message and have a firm defense for doing so in the face of criticism? Follow the United Nations Free & Equal initiative on Twitter (@free_equal) and on Facebook. This is an initiative of the Office of the High Commissioner for United Nations Human Rights (follow that initiative on Twitter and Facebook as well). Share and retweet the messages that initiative says that you feel you cannot say yourself, such as this video from the UN Secretary General in support of the Free & Equal initiative. No one can argue that you shouldn’t share it – unless they can point to a specific, verifiable threat as a result of such a message that could endanger staff.

Another example: while working in a country with a lot of armed conflict going on, our communications office decided that celebrating the UN’s international day of peace with our own messages could be seen as taking sides in the hostilities – saying “We hope for peace” could be interpreted as encouraging one side to “give in” to another. So we decided not to post our own messages – but to share and retweet official UN messages related to international peace day.

It’s a good idea to make a list of Twitter accounts and Facebook accounts that interns and/or volunteers could monitor and whose messages they could share or retweet without pre-approval from a supervisor. You might want to also make a list of accounts they should absolutely *not* retweet or share; for instance, at one work site, I would not allow articles from a certain media outlet to be shared or retweeted via our official account, because I felt the media outlet was profoundly biased against our work and because I felt their articles were often riddled with misinformation.

No matter what: keep communications mission-based. Think about the intent of your message: To educate regarding an issue related to your program’s mission? To encourage someone to do something related to your cause? To celebrate your program’s activities or accomplishments? To create goodwill with a certain community? Always be able to justify any message you want to send.

And did you see what I just did there?

Also see:

Why you should separate your personal life and private life online



How to Handle Online Criticism / Conflict

the scale of how we communicate online

From How to Fix Online Intimacy by Kyle Chayka for Pacific Standard Magazine:

Online exchanges that were once seen as too shallow to be authentic (we can’t have real relationships without face-to-face interaction, the critique goes) are now overwhelming in their volume and the degree to which they expose us to others… It’s not so much how we communicate online that has changed, but its scale.

Of course, I’ve never thought online interactions were shallow, and I’ve never thought you couldn’t have real relationships without face-to-face interaction. Maybe it’s because I’ve had long-distance friendships where old-fashioned postal letters and phone calls were how we communicated. Or maybe it’s because I just love the written word, and never think it’s somehow less intimate than having a live conversation (in fact, it can often be so much MORE intimate!). Still, I really liked this article because, for the most part, it reinforces my own feelings about online communications, which I’ve expressed on my blog, on my web site, and in workshops many times:

  1. online communications can be just as intense or personal as offline, face-to-face communications, and that’s both a blessing and curse,
  2. you need to think about your online activities in different personas, just as you do offline, and
  3. you DO have a lot of control your online interactions, how people perceive you online, and how you react to online perceptions.

Say you are a manager of volunteers. You don’t get to spend much time with individual volunteers, because you manage so many. But through social media, they learn you have a new dog, or that you ride a motorcycle on weekends, or that you weave – and perhaps that helps them relate to you more as a three-dimensional person, not just the person that schedules them to work and asks them to fill out program evaluations. That’s great! But then the downside: maybe a volunteer wants to go on a motorcycle ride together, or wants to meet up at the dog park – and you really don’t want to socialize with volunteers outside of work. Of course that’s a problem you can have even without social media, but the Internet makes such personal information MUCH easier to find and for communications outside of work to happen. That can be annoying at least and, at worst, creepy.

It’s not just comedians, movie stars and preachers that often have two different personas, one public for the audiences and the press, another for only very close family and friends. As I noted in my blog Why You SHOULD Separate Your Personal Life & Professional Life Online, you are already different people offline – what you say and how you act around your good friends in the evenings, away from families, is probably not exactly the same as what you say and how you act around your grandmother, or your employer. I remember dancing at a music festival… on stage… and being mortified when I realized a co-worker was in the audience. It’s why, on many social media platforms, I have two different accounts: one for the professional “me,” the one you are experiencing now, and one for the me I reserve for only my very closet friends or others that are really into Benedict Cumberbatch.

Chayka’s piece makes a great companion to these recent remarks by NewYorker.com editor Nicholas Thompson on “CBS This Morning” regarding Facebook “privacy” and my blog Freaking out over Facebook privacy? Both of those blogs offer steps to keep your online activities fun, to maintain and grow both personal and private relationships, but also to keep better control of what you share online.

A warning re: Facebook privacy from Nicholas Thompson

NewYorker.com editor Nicholas Thompson was on “CBS This Morning” today, and his comments about Facebook and privacy are worth reading (or listening to):

One of the things that Facebook does is that they’re constantly pushing the line of privacy. They always have, and they always will. They want to take stuff that you want to have private and they want to make it public. What happened with me is my year in review is, of course, pictures of my children, and all sorts of other things. But all of these are things that I’ve marked PRIVATE. I went to share my year in review, and, of course, Facebook defaulted to make it public, so instead of going to just my friends, it goes to 100,000 people. I had to quickly say, oh wait, no, I don’t want it to happen. that’s just the way Facebook operates. It’s always pushing that line. .. Facebook makes money by knowing as much as it possibly can about you, about your friends, about what you talk about because then it can target ads. SO if, for example, it knows, that I have kids, and there are comments about when their birthdays are, it can then have ads selling me stuff to get them for their birthdays or whatever. Facebook just wants as much information about you as it can possibly have in the most public form it can possibly get… Facebook is a business disguised as a service… Assume that Facebook will always be pushing every single possible way it can legally get away with to take everything you do and to make it as public as possible. With that assumption, set your privacy settings more restrictive than you think you might need to do… Facebook’s view, Mark Zuckerberg’s view, has always been that people don’t care about privacy and that over time we will share more and more and become more comfortable with letting more intimate details out into the world. And he is right. Over time we are more comfortable, over time we are giving up more, over time Facebook is shrinking the boundaries of privacy, and people really don’t complain.

Thompson is not saying, “Don’t use Facebook.” Obviously, he still uses Facebook. I use Facebook (I have both a profile and a page). And his comments can be said about so many online social networks – they are businesses, not services, and they make money by gathering information about you and sharing it with businesses that want to sell you stuff.

If you have never looked at your Facebook profile using a profile that is not yours and isn’t among your Facebook friends, you really should – once a year, in fact. Ask a co-worker that you are not friends with on Facebook if he or she would be willing to log into Facebook and then to look at your Facebook profile and timeline while you look over his or her shoulder, to see what really is public and what isn’t. Look for your contact information (phone number, email), your birthday, photos of yourself and, if you have such, your children. Everything you see is visible to ANYONE with a Facebook account, including those people who are not Facebook friends. Are you comfortable with what you can see? If not, change your Facebook privacy settings.

Why should you care about your privacy? Because:

  • Your employer nor your co-workers should not see what you did on vacation, or what you do outside of work hours; it’s none of their business, and they could use it to fire you. In this economy, most people can’t afford to lose their jobs over something you do outside of work that has nothing to do with your on-the-job performance.
  • It makes it easier to steal your identify. Knowing your birthday and mother’s maiden name can help a thief gather all the information he or she needs to use your identify to buy things.
  • Your life needs boundaries. Your life will feel full of creepy people if you share everything online. I’ve had a few people at my workshops say some things about my personal life that they found out because of what I’d posted online. Back when I shared it on Facebook, I didn’t think it was a big deal, but having it brought up at a workshop… it felt creepy.

YOU DO HAVE CONTROL. Be deliberate in what you post, and keep in mind that ANYTHING you post online, even if you set it to private, could become public, accidentally, maliciously and deliberately, or through a legal loophole.

Note: I transcribed Mr. Thompson’s comments myself. I apologize if I’ve made any mistakes.

Also see:

Terrific resources you’re missing from Twitter

I share a LOT of information on Twitter: info on effective nonprofit communications, management or engagement of volunteers, job leads with leading nonprofit and humanitarian organizations, funding leads, updates on UN initiatives in Afghanistan, Ukraine, or anywhere else I care about (and I care about a LOT of places), and more. Often, it’s information I don’t share anywhere else.

I hear a lot of people say they don’t use Twitter because they “don’t want all the text messages.” They don’t realize that you do NOT have to receive tweets via text messaging – that hasn’t been true for many years. I read Twitter via my lap top or my smart phone, primarily – most people do. Also, you don’t have to follow everyone you find interesting – you can add people to different lists and view content when YOU want to (here are my Twitter lists, to give you an idea of how it can work).

Here are my tweets and retweets of the last three days:

Using SMS to improve communication between UNHCR, partner NGOs, & urban refugees:

Job: Fellows Coordinator (p2). 12 months in Budapest! Apply here:

We’re looking for someone to join our team as our Fellows Coordinator. Interested? Apply today:

German translation of the W3C document “CSS Style Attributes”

Nice video by about how to speak up safely against in :

Watch the most offensive international charity video of the year – Humanosphere

Short film asks “What did you pay for when you bought illegal ivory?” Answer: terrorism on African Continent

A university center that says it cultivates “innovative thinking” & “entrepreneurship”, etc., has no social media accounts? Harumph

Job: in Forest Grove, seeks a Director of Finance and Operations

opened an office in to work with civilians in the conflict zone, the USG Jeffrey Feltman said:

Almost 10% of Sierra Leone’s 120 doctors have died of . “Why Sierra Leone Literally Had to Cancel Christmas”

Groups may receive up to 5 stays a hostel for each day members 2+ hours in surrounding community

Just did a little virtual volunteering over on the online forum. How about you?

International Conference on Social Media for Good May 14-16, 2015, Istanbul. Abstracts due Dec 29, 2014

I have said this for YEARS: “Successful Tech Requires An Old-Fashioned Skill: Organizing People”

We’re Hiring! Quality Assurance Analyst -contract position with the possibility of extension and/or conversion.

We’re also hiring a Sr. Project Manager. full time – exempt  To apply:   (plz RT!)

Fantastic option: 6-12 months in Ghana with . Expenses paid, excellent projects

Which languages influence wikipedia – & each other (visualization)

How languages influence Twitter – & each other (visualization)

. mobilizes corporate volunteers to support post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals:

Online mentors helping entrepreneurs in developing countries: and ?

Core humanitarian standard launched last week. Check it out

How I keep up re: virtual volunteering: this ework/evolunteer list (also re: telework, telecommuting, virtual teams)

What I hope future USA volunteering reports by will focus on, to be more helpful:

Yet again Volunteering & Civic Life in America report focuses on $ value of

I consider “Anonymous” a virtual volunteering example, & def. worthy of study:

Virtual volunteering in the EU: history, prevalence, approaches, how it relates to employability, social inclusion

Ukrainian journalism student project: Stopfake.org

For more than a decade, I’ve been informally studying how folklore, rumors & urban myths interfere with development/aid/relief efforts, and government initiatives, & how these are overcome. I’m so fascinated with the subject that it was almost my Master’s degree these once-upon-a-time – but I couldn’t find enough people to go on-the-record in interviews.

I have longed for myth-busting sites like snopes.com or Straight Dope column by Cecil Adams in the USA to be created for developing and transitional countries (as well as home-grown versions of the show “MythBusters“), in local languages. I dream of winning the lottery just so I can fund such initiatives in various countries.

Imagine my thrill to discover this week that there IS such a thing in Ukraine! Fact-checking website Stopfake.org was launched on March 2, 2014 by alumni and students of Mohyla School of Journalism and of the Digital Future of Journalism professional program. “The main purpose of this community is to check facts, verify information, and refute distorted information and propaganda about events in Ukraine covered in the media,” according to the web site. The site is in both English and Russian.

It’s an all-volunteer site (and that includes ONLINE volunteers / virtual volunteering), verifying information, finding and translating and researching stories, etc. Though the site is meant to fact-check anti-Ukrainian bias in media, there are some articles that debunk pro-Ukrainian stories as well. What I particularly love is the article How to Identify a Fake.

I hope that, once the conflict between Ukraine and Russia has become non-violent and not quite so threatening and vitriolic, the focus of the Stopfake.org site can move to more every-day myths that float around Ukraine – about HIV/AIDS, or about Islamic or Jewish religions/culture, for instance. Such myths can have serious, even deadly, consequences.

I also hope the site will start being updated again in English soon – as of the time of this blog’s writing, it hasn’t been updated in English since the end of August. I wonder if this program would qualify to use the UN’s Online Volunteering service to find online volunteers to translate articles from Russian to English… I certainly consider debunking rumors as an essential part of development and aid work

If you know of a similar myth-debunking site in countries other than the USA, please note such in the comments section on my blog.

And for a good source of information about the conflict in Ukraine, from a variety of sources (news, NGOs, UN agencies, etc.), my go-to site is ReliefWeb’s Ukraine site.

How do international NGOs use Twitter?

In the latest installment of the award-winning Twiplomacy study, global public relations and communications firm Burson-Marsteller looks at how international organisations use Twitter to promote their stories and how they engage with their followers. In November 2013, Burson-Marsteller analysed the 223 Twitter accounts of 101 international organisations and non-profit organizations. Over the past six years, all leading international organisations have set up at least one institutional Twitter account, and half of the 101 organisations analysed in this study have created a personal account for the head of the organization.

This is a terrific report. It not only looks at retweets, but also how many of these organizations are on other tweeters’ lists. I also like that the study looked at executive director’s tweets, not just the organizations, and that how often they interacted with others on Twitter was analyzed.

A great way to learn how success on Twitter can look – lessons for even small organizations, not just large, international ones.

mobile devices, mobile apps, texting & volunteers

A recent blog post by VolunteerMatch on 5 Ways to Use Your Mobile Device for Your Volunteer Program, which has some good, basic advice as well as some comments regarding how to send a text to multiple people at once, reminded me of how often that this topic has come up on the TechSoup community forum in some shape or form.

So I have done my best to compile these previous TechSoup threads here:

mobile time tracking – for volunteers to track service hours?

What mobile apps do you promote to clients, volunteers, supporters, staff?

Mobile apps: what do managers of volunteers *want*

anyone using these mobile apps as part of their work?

Sending text messages to 50 non-smart phones

FrontlineSMS – FOSS management for text messages

Texting from a computer

Planning for handheld tech

Handheld Computer Tech in Community Service/Volunteering/Advocacy

Feel free to comment on any of these threads over on TechSoup with additional questions, experiences or comments!