What role do messaging apps play in armed conflicts and humanitarian efforts? An advisory group conducting research into this area is calling for submissions and information about real-life examples and case studies.
Non-profit organisation the Engine Room is working with a raft of international bodies such as the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and more to find out how messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, Kik and more are being used in armed conflicts. As part of its research, the group is looking for people with experience using messaging apps in conflict situations to get in touch and share their experiences, good or bad. The overall goal is to develop resources that can assist humanitarian groups use messaging apps effectively in the future as well as explore questions around data handling and privacy.
Messaging apps are hugely popular. According to research conducted by Pew Research Center, half of all smartphone users aged 18 to 29 use messaging apps while this year’s public listing of Japanese messaging service Line was one of the biggest tech IPOs in the last few years.
The ubiquity of these apps could see them play a decisive role in conflict areas, whether as a means of getting vital information to citizens or, as in the case of an SMS-based service like PeaceTXT, communicating directly with people at risk of getting involved in the conflict. Services like WhatsApp have already played a big role in the Syrian refugee crisis, allowing displaced people to stay in contact with loved ones as well as access information to help them on their journey.
If you wish to share your experience using messaging apps in conflict or humanitarian situations, contact the team via email (contact details are listed at the bottom of this page).