"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


what was twitter thinking?

Today is World AIDS Day. In partnership with (Red), Twitter is automatically turning the words of any post with the word "Africa" in it red.

Twitter, this is a fail. It is downright offensive to equate the African continent to HIV/AIDS. It also ignores the fact that 1/3 of HIV/AIDS cases occur elsewhere, and that the likely future spread of this disease will be in China, India, and Russia.

I appreciate the effort at awareness-raising. It's good for more people to be aware that HIV/AIDS is a problem in our world. But ignoring the continent's beauty, diversity, positive steps towards development and prosperity, and - it must be noted - approximately 980 million Africans who do not live with HIV/AIDS is inexcusable.

*Update, Africa's population corrected to 980 million, not 780 million.
**AND that that number isn't 80% of the continental population, but rather closer to, what, 97 or 98%? I'm tired today.


OpenID Michael Keizer said...

What's interesting is that Twitter themselves do not advertise this. From the Twitter blog the list of keywords:
"#red 100% of the monies generated by (RED) partners and events goes directly to fund programs to fight AIDS in Africa
@joinred is the official account of the (RED) campaign
40 cents a day can keep someone with AIDS alive
World AIDS Day is the perfect day to tweet for a cause
AIDS is preventable and treatable
HIV affects 33 million people around the world
#laceupsavelives is Nike's own campaign"

"Africa" is not there. One wonders why.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009 3:11:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seriously, is there anything that is not offensive in this world? No matter what good it is, there's always someone who is NOT going to be 100% happy abt it. I find the efforts made by the RED campaign today to create more awareness or get a few people active today - for the right reasons, actually commendable! It is a fact that Africa holds 10% of the world's population and also holds 67% of all those affected by HIV & AIDS in the whole world! I find that deeply saddening! For that reason I commend the Red Campaign for their efforts in creating this awareness and teaching people a few facts. If by this even a few attitudes change, surely that is something going towards change in the world, positive change. @sthangwenya

Tuesday, December 01, 2009 5:21:00 PM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Ah, but they're just adding to the false impression that Africa is a total basket case by reinforcing negative stereotypes that it is, as Kate and Amanda at Wronging Rights put it, the land of rape and lions. Surely you don't think that's a good thing? Shouldn't "Africa" be recognized for what is positive there while we try to combat what is negative?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009 6:49:00 PM

Blogger linda said...

Totally understand your point, but I think maybe there's a misunderstanding. My understanding of today was that several companies participated in the (Red) business model, including when I bought my Starbucks latte today, etc., and are donating a portion of today's purchase to African AIDS organization. So, Twitter was actually doing their part w/o any bad intention I think. If there was a "fail," it would have been with (RED) for donating the money only to African AIDS orgs? You see what I mean? Sorry if I didn't explain that too clearly. But it's from an already existing organization, not a made-up Twitter response to World AIDS Day. See also: http://www.joinred.com/Learn/AboutRed/FAQs.aspx

Tuesday, December 01, 2009 10:15:00 PM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Linda I get what you're saying, but here's the thing: my tweets turned red today even when I didn't mention #red or #Africa, because "Africa" is part of my Twitter name. I don't think they had bad intentions at all. But they did fall prey to stereotypes, and that was offensive.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009 11:26:00 AM

Blogger StandTall-The Activist said...

That is downright offensive, if anyone will link HIv and Africa in that way. It's ought to be World Aids DAY!

Thursday, December 03, 2009 11:26:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

10% of the world population and 67% of the AIDS cases. Instead of worrying about stereotyping and nitpicing, support helping Africa.

The world is filled with talkers, with nothing better to do that find fault. Then there are the doers, condemnend by the talkers.

Thursday, April 01, 2010 9:20:00 AM


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