Twittering for a good cause

Friday, April 17, 2009

Current mood: good
Category: News and Politics
Scott Case

CEO, Malaria No More


This week, the world discovered a new and powerful weapon in the
fight against malaria: Twitter. The social networking and
micro-blogging tool mobilized a million people to battle the disease by
helping Ashton Kutcher be the first to reach one million Twitter
followers—saving lives, 140 characters at a time.

Earlier this month, Ashton decided to help raise awareness about
malaria for World Malaria Day on April 25th. To do so, he leveraged his
popularity on Twitter to spread the word and encourage his followers to
donate $10 mosquito nets at This simple act (or
“tweet”) brought a message of malaria awareness to a new audience in an
innovative way and galvanized hundreds of thousands of people to take

Innovation like this is exactly what’s needed to end malaria deaths.
When Ashton challenged CNN in a race to a million Twitter followers, he
added a twist: 10,000 mosquito nets for Malaria No More to help
families protect their children in Africa if he reached the target
first. CNN quickly accepted the challenge and pledged 10,000 nets if
they could beat Ashton to the magic number.

The gauntlet was thrown and the race was on. But the fight to end malaria deaths had already scored a major victory.
As a technologist, I’m always looking for the next big thing in new
media and breakthrough communications. Twitter is a phenomenal tool—but
this is the first time I’ve seen it used in such a powerful way. With
this race, Ashton not only showed the power of new media, he also
launched what may be the biggest technology-driven, pro-social movement
in history.

Every individual who participated in the Twitter race played a vital
role in moving the world toward one in which no child dies of malaria.
To make a difference, Twitter followers didn’t need to make a large
donation or a grand gesture. The race to a million showed that the
power of dedicated individuals united behind a common cause can spark a
movement. Every Twitterer involved—regardless of whether they followed
Ashton or CNN—took a simple action that will have outsized impact in
the lives of families across Africa.

Malaria is a preventable and treatable disease that kills a child in
Africa every 30 seconds—but we know how to stop it. Thanks to new
tools, resources and political commitment across the globe, we are
winning the fight against malaria. Public engagement shows our leaders
that we are determined to beat malaria. Ashton and CNN’s Twitter race
shows how we can catalyze technology and innovation to tackle a social
problem and make real and lasting change.

We’re working to end malaria deaths by 2015—we can do it, but we
need everyone’s help. Every tweet helps, every mosquito net helps,
every person has the power to help save lives. Join the world in the
race to end malaria deaths by getting creative and using the tools at
your fingertips. Visit or use the power of
Twitter, MySpace and YouTube to amplify your voice and inspire others.

Ashton set an ambitious goal of reaching a million Twitter followers
this week. Inspired by his success, we’re setting an ambitious target
of our own: help us get to one million mosquito nets in one week to
celebrate World Malaria Day on April 25th.

As Ashton proved today, anything’s possible.
Follow @malarianomore on Twitter