Tinder, but for dogs: 5 innovative ideas that use social media for social good

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Five groups from across the Philippines were granted funding by Facebook and education NGO Mano Amiga to respond to social issues through social media. In photo: 'Kalilintad' group from Marawi (from left: Famela Barangai, Azizah Cuaro, Jaffari Abdulwahab, Rohayrah Mangundao, Sittie Janora Hadji Ali, and Johanna Amboloto). Photo by KITKAT PAJARO

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — When the siege of Marawi began and continued to unfold, Jaffari Abdulwahab, a 24-year-old Muslim from Marawi, immediately saw posts and comments on social media labelling Maranaos as members of extremist groups. “Meron [pa nga] nakalagay na ‘ah, okay lang ‘yan napala nila, kasi prinotektahan nila ‘yung mga terrorist,” he says of other comments hinting that the war was a circumstance the Maranaos deserved.

Because of this proliferation of online hate, Abdulwahab, together with five other Maranao Muslims, decided to apply for Think Before You Share, a three-day digital youth summit supported by Facebook Asia Pacific and organized by an education NGO, Mano Amiga Philippines, which aim to help Filipinos develop online projects that respond to social issues.

Claire Deevy, head of community affairs of Facebook APAC, says that the breadth of applications shows how there are a variety of issues that the Filipinos care about at the moment. “I think these campaigns present a new voice and a new perspective … I think that that's the beauty of Facebook — two billion people on Facebook, 66 million people in the Philippines are on [it] every month, that’s 66 million different perspectives and the opportunity to find a way to broadcast that and bring people to be part of your community really is the power of it,” she says.

Untitled.jpg “One of the accomplishments of the summit was that we were able to get good representation from different parts of the Philippines," says Lynn Pinugu, executive director of Mano Amiga Philippines, Facebook APAC's partner in executing the Think Before You Share summit. Photo by JM GONZALES

Deevy adds that their partnership with a local NGO like Mano Amiga is crucial for the quality and sustainability of these campaigns, especially that they want this project to be representative of the Philippines. “When you're looking at creating a sustainable education program [that includes] critical thinking and empathy, first thing is to find a partner who understands what is happening now, what is important in the Philippines,” she explains. “Mano Amiga went on to say that the Philippines is one country but it's [composed of] different communities, so how do we make sure that we're presenting a really diverse view from the Philippines?”

Lynn Pinugu, executive director of Mano Amiga, shares that they wanted to make sure that different kind of issues and advocacies were represented during the summit. “We were pleasantly surprised that a lot of youth groups from Mindanao had actually applied, which I think shows their desire to really be part of the conversation,” she says. “One of the accomplishments of the summit was that we were able to get good representation from different parts of the Philippines.”

thinkbeforeyoushare_cnnph.jpg Claire Deevy (rightmost), head of community affairs of Facebook APAC, says that their partnership with Mano Amiga is crucial to ensure the sustainability of the online campaigns. Photo by JM GONZALES

Abdulwahab’s group is named “Kalilintad,” which is a Maranao word for peace. Their group pitched an anti-discrimination online campaign to help support Muslims who are being targeted by online trolls. “[‘Yung mga] natutunan namin sa summit pwede naming gamitin for us to bridge cultural gaps na nagiging parang mas evident [ngayon],” says Abdulwahab.

“Kalilintad” went on to win a special citation award for the group, granting them mentoring sessions from Facebook and Mano Amiga. Twenty-one other groups from across the Philippines shared their ideas for an online campaign on the third day of the event, and five groups were awarded funding by Facebook to continue their advocacies: Prism, Inhinyeras, I am Marshall, TechnoLeads, and Take It Topless.

Here are the five, would-be funded groups and individuals whose online campaign pitches showed a clear and precise mission in using social media for social good.


13.jpg Rahn Dela Cruz is one half of Prism, a group that aims to promote social media etiquette through an online personality called Tita Amiga. Photo by KITKAT PAJARO


Rahn Dela Cruz, together with Julius Sambo, make up the group Prism. They are fresh graduates from the Ateneo de Manila University who pitched an online personality calledTita Amiga, one who champions good and proper social media behavior.

“There's a constant growth of Facebook users nowadays and a lot of people use Facebook freely without actually having the idea … that we should have certain etiquettes,” says Dela Cruz. He shares that they particularly chose to ride on the “Tita” concept because the Filipino culture is prevalent of “titas,” someone who has authority and yet is still approachable.

Prism envisions to create buzz around their campaigns through complementing their cause with various hashtags. One is #DearTita, where Facebook users can raise certain concerns, questions and situations on how to resolve improper use of social media, such as cyberbullying, or the dissemination of false news. Another is #TitaTips, where Tita can share different information, infographics, and useful tips that will teach Facebook users on how to actually use their social media accounts properly.

Aside from the hashtags, Prism also wants to take it further by using a messenger bot. “[With the] Artificial Intelligence messenger bot, Tita can always be available online for people to chat to and [there would be] a messenger bot for answers and tips for them to follow,” Dela Cruz adds.


IMG_7572.JPG The TechnoLeads (from left: Almarie Bullo, Loi Alian Cabaluna, Love Jean Villanueva, Khayle Daayata, and Zandra Clarissa Sabuero) pitched a campaign that will allow for the general public to report misinformation disseminated online. Photo by KITKAT PAJARO


The TechnoLeads — consisting of Loi Alian Cabaluna, Almarie Bullo, Khayle Daayata, Zandra Clarissa Sabuero, Love Jean Villanueva — are information and technology students from Cagayan de Oro College who pitched a website dedicated to discern ‘fake news’ from actual news. The website that they will be putting up will be called “Kamatuod,” which is the Bisaya term for truth.

“Technology is very rampant and then we need to take action regarding the abuses of the people [who use] technology, especially in social media,” says Cabaluna, one of the members of TechnoLeads. On the website, there will be thumbnails labelling news as fake or real. The website also encourages the general public to report any information that they see online that may be false. The admins of the website will then investigate if the allegations are correct, and if they are, they will post a counter argument for this false news.

Cabaluna also says that they plan to make a Google Chrome extension that can readily distinguish if certain websites are reliable or not. “Magno-notify siya if ‘yung website na ‘yun eh reliable ba or not kasi may list kami sa database namin na mga website na unreliable,” he says.


14.jpg The Inhinyeras (from left: Angelica Palanog, Gladys Alda, and Roxette Malicdem) are advocating for more women to join the field of engineering. Photo by KITKAT PAJARO


Female student engineers from the student organization Inhinyeras housed at the Technological Institute in the Philippines (TIP) — Angelica Palanog, Gladys Alda, and Roxette Malicdem — joined the summit to push for more women in the field of science and technology. “Our advocacy is about women empowerment and engineering since the ratio [disparity between] women and men, engineer students in TIP ay big, parang mas dominated pa rin ‘yung industry ng men kaysa ng women,” says Palanog.

The group aims to do this through their campaign called TGIF² or Thank God It’s Friday Fever, a monthly gathering of female engineers where they aim to invite female leaders in STEM or Filipina CEOs to talk about their respective careers. Videos and photos of the gathering will then be boosted and spread online to encourage more Filipinas to pursue a career in science or engineering.

The organization started in 2015 but Palanog says that they never prioritized their funds for social media, as there were other aspects of running the organization that needed it more. But with the recent funding from Facebook, she’s positive that their cause would be able to reach more people. “Sobrang laking opportunity talaga nakasali kami … kasi kahit [nga] na may announcements kami hindi minsan na-re-reach ‘yung ibang members namin,” she adds.

Malicdem, another group member, also says that while the funding could help them increase their reach, it is being given the platform to talk about their advocacy at the digital youth summit that they will always cherish. “[In the Philippines], pina-prioritize ‘yung male. We, [as females], also want to be heard because we know that we also have the capacity to contribute to the industry.”


12.jpg Aaron Ifurung of I am Marshall calls for people to adopt dogs instead of buying them through a Tinder-like app for people who want to adopt rescued dogs. Photo by KITKAT PAJARO

I am Marshall

Growing up in a family of animal lovers, Aaron Ifurung, a part-time actor, started a Facebook page on September to show off their six-year-old German Shepherd named Marshall. In just over a month, the page garnered 4,000 likes, and so Ifurung felt they had to make good use of the platform.

“We wanted to show him off lang but we thought that he could be of help not just to humans but to other animals as well,” says Ifurung. For the summit, he pitched to include a Tinder-like interface on the existing I am Marshall Facebook page for people who want to adopt dogs, with the hashtag #AdoptDontShop. ”[There will be] the dogs' picture, the dogs' descriptions, how old he or she is … then we find for potential adopters who would like to match. We will call it a Fur-fect match,” he explains.

Ifurung says that those who want to adopt will go through their screening process, which they will replicate from different animal institutions who also encourage for people to adopt dogs. “[The Facebook page will have a] more enhanced profile with a cause, with a more attentive cause. Kasi ‘yung cause talaga kasi namin is you have to adopt instead of buy a purebred because there are over millions of dogs that are up for adoption, so that's what we're focusing on now.”


11.jpg Micah Jude Sinco aims to encourage people to refuse single-use plastic lids through her online movement #TakeItTopless. Photo by JM GONZALES

Take It Topless

Micah Jude Sinco, a student from Silliman University and the chairperson of the environment department of her university’s student government, proposed a digital campaign that will encourage people to ‘undress’ their cups or to refuse single-use plastic lids.

Sinco also started a campaign in Dumaguete called Straw Wars, where they encourage restaurants to give straws only upon request. “Why not lids din? Because they're basically like partners,” she says. “We live in Dumaguete City, it's a small town and it being a small town, there's so many coffee shops, so many restaurants … we've noticed that a lot of people when they dine in restaurants, they don’t really use the lids anyway.”

The campaign will heavily rely on social media as they want their audience to take photos when they buy drinks without lids and include the hashtag #TakeItTopless. Through the hashtag, Sinco believes that this small step towards less plastic consumption could be a trend, one that will make digital users more environmentally conscious.