Hashtag activism certainly has its uses—as sociologist Zeynep Tufekci put it, “hashtags can and do generate attention, and attention has never been powerless.” You might “like” a campaign, sign an online petition and tweet a hashtag (#prayforboston #bringbackourgirls #heforshe), and then go to bed knowing you've played a part in making the world a better place.
But there's one thing that's quantifiably better than “raising awareness”—raising money.
In France today, the company behind some of the country's biggest banks is rolling out a new service that will let people send money over Twitter, providing an avenue to turn hashtag slacktivism into actual change. By downloading an app and linking your credit card to your Twitter account, the service, known as S-Money, will let you send money to other Twitter users even if you don't know their banking information.
Though the service could theoretically be used for any number of things, discretion is the key as the payment messages will all be publicly displayed. But this openness, Venture Beat points out, could be a boon for fundraising campaigns:
If everyone in your feed is suddenly tweeting that they are giving $5 or $10 to a worthy cause, like the Campaign to Prevent Cats From Eating Twinkies, then there’s the chance the donations could go viral. After all, if you have this all hooked up, sending a tweet just takes a few seconds.
For now, the service only works in France. But if a similar set-up spreads, it might not be too long before the next time you're getting ready to #dosomething you'll be expected to put your money where your mouth is and throw some dollars behind those tweets.