As we kick off 2020, big tech companies are undoubtedly feeling the pressure of an election year and the responsibilities their platforms have in the dissemination of information. Even the microblogging service Tumblr has plans to engage with its community.
On Monday, Tumblr announced a new digital literacy initiative in order to “help empower its community and the next young generation of internet citizens recognize suspicious online activity and behavior.”
The World Wide What initiative aims to educate Tumblr’s user base on topics such as disinformation and fake news, cyberbullying, and authenticity. The program was created in partnership with a UK anti-bullying nonprofit called . The initiative includes a six video digital literacy series as well as a Tumblr blog hosting other relevant memes, photos, and links.
The World Wide What Tumblr page also includes information about future Q&A’s with guests like The Good Place actress Jameela Jamil, who founded the body positivity community . (Mashable reached out to Tumblr for more information about World Wide What and possible future plans regarding the initiative.)
Tumblr has had a of a year since ditching all of the on its platform. However, while it did lose visitors with those policy changes, the microblogging service still boasts hundreds of millions of monthly visitors. More importantly, the platform has a dedicated base of extremely internet savvy users in the younger demographics.
That’s not to say a largely digitally literate user base means a company shouldn’t work on initiatives like this. There’s always someone who can benefit from the sort of awareness World Wide What is intended to bring to fake news and cyberbullying.
For instance, in 2018, Tumblr that it had uncovered a Russian disinformation campaign on its platform. And, as and point out, some Tumblr communities remain extremely toxic so cyberbullying is also clearly an issue worth addressing.
The question is: will Tumblr’s users engage with it?
Tumblr is a platform dominated by memes and GIFs largely driven by music, movie, and TV show fandoms. The main content being promoted right now from World Wide What are two-to-three minute long videos with captions, lacking a human host or narration.
These types of videos are usually made for social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. But, on Tumblr, where the users likely overlap more so with the YouTube audience, having some sort of face to lend authority to content geared to this very specific group of users would likely be very helpful.
The initiative is certainly a step in the right direction. I just think Tumblr can do more to make World Wide What appealing to its demographic. Let’s see what its future holds.
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