Twitter was once coined "the poor man's e-mail."
Interns at the New York advertising agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty has taken the phrase literally.
Mashable reports that BBH's Underheard in New York project provides four homeless men with prepaid cellphones and Twitter accounts with the intent that they Tweet their thoughts on everyday life. The hope is that getting their message out to the public would encourage people to help better their situations. BBH also hopes the endeavor will encourage donations to shelters such as the NYC Rescue Mission, where the four men sleep.
genConnect social media expert Aaron Strout said one of aspects that makes Twitter great - particularly for uses such as this - is its simplicity. Strout says:
"In this case, providing four homeless men with cell phones and access to Twitter gives them the means to easily provide insights into their daily lives. To that end, allowing people to connect to the raw emotion and daily routines of people living on the street can't help but increase understanding and compassion for their situation. I'm fascinated by how this will play out but I think it's a brilliant move by the NYC-based agency."
Twitter co-founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams are not surprised by Twitter's potential to empower.
"People are basically good and if you give them a tool to do good, they will," Stone told genConnect. Whether it be during natural disasters, emergencies, or people helping each other or raising awareness for charities, Twitter has the power to connect people in ways previously unimagined. That's what really hit me - the idea that we can build something that has a positive impact on the world."
Want to follow the lives of these New York City homeless men? Check them out: Danny (@putodanny), Derrick (@awitness2011), Albert (@albert814) and Carlos (@jessie550) have voices just waiting to be heard.
For more Twitter and social media stories:
- Aaron Strout's 10 Tips to Go From Novice to Noticed on Twitter
- Did Facebook Help Spur Egypt's Revolt? (Video)
- Biz Stone and Evan Williams Define Twitter
- Jerry Murdock on the power of Twitter
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