The increasing popularity of messaging apps is opening up opportunities and risks.
Mobile messaging is the fastest-growing digital vehicle ever – with mobile messaging apps becoming tools for regular, day-to-day communication for people around the world. Today, more than 2.5 billion people around the world use messaging apps – a figure that is expected to grow to 3.6 billion by 2018.
This opens up opportunities – as well as risks – for people around the world currently using messaging apps, and also for humanitarian organisations who want to engage with local communities and increase their accountability to them (particularly in areas experiencing armed conflicts).
We’re working with the International Committee of the Red Cross and Block Party to learn more.
Over the next two months, we’ll be researching an ‘In Brief’ report that aims to:
- Increase knowledge and understanding of the global messaging app market, including apps’ functionalities and considerations around privacy and data protection.
- Document examples of how local communities and humanitarian organisations are using messaging apps at times of crisis, particularly during armed conflicts.
- Provide recommendations for humanitarian organisations on how messaging apps could be used responsibly, safely and ethically as an operational tool for two-way communication with local communities, as well as for internal coordination, information-sharing and management.
- Produce tips for messaging app users and potential new users to help them make safer, more informed use of messaging apps.
The report is being prepared with support from an advisory group that includes staff from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), and the World Food Programme (WFP).
Do you know of any situations where messaging apps have been used in humanitarian work, with positive or negative consequences?
We’re looking for real-life examples and resources that can help humanitarian organisations use messaging apps more effectively in the future, and we’d love to hear from you.
Jacobo Quintanilla, Community Engagement Advisor, ICRC – firstname.lastname@example.org
Tom Walker, Research Lead, The Engine Room – email@example.com
Eytan Oren, CEO and Creative Director, Block Party – firstname.lastname@example.org