Would you hand over your social media account for the greater good?
That’s what the UN is asking Facebook and Twitter users to do this week, in preparation for World Humanitarian Day on August 19.
The organization launched its #ShareHumanity social media campaign Wednesday to shed light on those struggling to survive in some of world’s toughest disasters and conflicts.
"We're calling on the young and digitally connected to help us push out these compelling stories and give a voice to the voiceless," said Stephen O'Brien, the UN humanitarian chief.
"I believe we have a shared responsibility to raise awareness and help to inspire humanity on these global issues."
Interested users can sign up on the World Humanitarian Day website to let its #ShareHumanity app share one of 17 chosen stories on their Facebook or Twitter feeds for six hours. The UN won’t have access to users’ contact lists, and supporters can share as many stories as they want.
The featured stories range from a volunteer who rescued a 10-day-old baby buried in rubble after a barrel-bomb attack in Syria to an organization that teaches Afghan girls and boys how to skateboard.
Several big names have already joined the campaign, including Brazilian soccer player Ricardo Kaká, media mogul Richard Branson, Chinese concert pianist Lang Lang, and Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai.
The main goal behind the initiative is to "create a mass core of support for humanitarian life-saving action in the world,” said Kieran Dwyer, chief of communications for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
The organization also hopes the stories will motivate people to donate to its humanitarian agencies and other non-governmental organizations who strive to help those in need, Mr. Dwyer said. The UN humanitarian office needs $20 billion to provide 100 million people emergency assistance this year, but it has received less than 30 percent of that so far.
"The UN can only do so much," Natasha Scripture, global spokesperson for World Humanitarian Day, told Mashable. "We want people to feel empowered and inspired to make a difference in the lives of people affected around the world."
The campaign is also dedicated to the aid workers who risk their lives to help those in need. It will end next week on World Humanitarian Day, a day that commemorates the aid workers who died in the 2003 bombing of the UN Headquarters in Baghdad.
With social media driving #SharedHumanity, the UN hopes it will reach a younger market that typically wouldn’t post articles on humanitarian crises, says Alexandra Eurdolian, head of social media at OCHA.
"Millennials might not have money to give, but what they do have is a social following," Ms. Eurdolian says. "That's what we're asking for here – for their feeds, in order to enable these stories to be told and be heard."
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.