Sarvodaya-Fusion’s #ThinkFirst Campaign, launched after the Easter Sunday Bomb attacks to minimize hate speech, misinformation and fake news, won the coveted first prize in the Best Digital Integrated Campaign of Sri Lanka Telecoms Zero one Awards, held in Colombo on 4 March 2020.
“The Campaign reached over 700,000 people within 12 weeks, educating and informing them of key issues through a series of trilingual picture posts and was able to spread positivity at a time when the country needed all ethnic groups to stand united,” said Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne, President, Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement.
The creative visual content was new on Sarvodaya-Fusion’s Facebook page and was something novel to the online community too. Even at the start of the campaign user engagement increased from 3800 to 9500 users per day.
“We as an organization felt compelled to carry out this campaign to educate users and to stem the online hate speech and fake news,” said Ms. Maithree Malwattegoda, Campaign Manager, and General Manager at Sarvodaya Fusion. “The Team gave much thought to designing and wording the picture posts to have maximum impact.”
With the success of the first phase, the second phase of the campaign focused on educating users on how best to safeguard their own security and privacy, from varied risks that are rampant on social media platforms.
The attention in the third and final phase shifted to minimizing the hate posts circulating at the time of the Presidential elections. Here the imperative was to educate and empower youth voters and to alert online users on the circulation of misinformation and fake news. Sarvodaya-Fusion’s aim to spread positive messages and raise awareness was successful with Page views increasing by over 216% compared to the previous month. Further, post engagement rate remained high and reached nearly 200,000 youth, with the majority in the 18-34 age groups. Users viewed posts daily around 15,000 times. Some posts were popular and was viewed by nearly 50,000 online users.
“The evolving digital sphere presented a challenging opportunity for Sarvodaya-Fusion to carry out this campaign to educate our users at a critical time,” said Malwattegoda. “We are both honoured and humbled to receive this award and will continue to keep training our users to be digitally savvy.”
Currently, Sarvodaya-Fusion has an expanding engagement with Sri Lankan youth. Data gathered during the campaign reveal that majority of users are Sri Lankan Sinhala and Tamil speaking youth in the 18-34 age group.