Emojis, those innocuous smiley faces and animals used in texting and tweeting, may seem pointless to some. But starting this month, those little symbols may make all the difference for endangered species around the world.
As part of a campaign by the World Wild Fund for Nature, simply tweeting an emoji of endangered animal can help save the real thing. Those interested in helping out can sign up at Twitter.com/WWF or retweet WWF’s announcement to have the nonprofit track each animal picture blasted out to their followers.
At the end of each month, the WWF will make a suggestion to donate 11 cents for each use of an emoji. The unique fundraising drive, which launched on May 12, seems timed to coincide with Endangered Species Day on May 15.
The campaign, done in partnership with advertising firm Wieden+Kennedy, will make use of 17 animals available from the Unicode Standard 6.0 document, so users of both iOS and android can post a digital creature of their choice. On an official website, the WWF shows the actual endangered animals that have assigned to each emoji, and the threats they’re facing that donations will help combat.
Donations are voluntary, so the emojis don’t necessarily translate directly to cold hard cash. But even if tweeters aren’t willing to fork over that modest fee for each use of an emoji, there’s a good chance that a turtle, elephant, or tiger as one of their 140 characters will inspire at least a few of their followers to contribute or help bring awareness to the cause.
The Internet is full of ineffective social media crusades, but the WWF campaign stands out by calling out Twitter users to put their money where their mouth is. If you’re up for the challenge, get started tweeting an endangered species emoji today. It’s about as much of a change as you can make, using only your thumbs.