Boy invents the “El Paso Challenge” encouraging acts of kindness  

Boy invents the “El Paso Challenge” encouraging acts of kindness  

An 11-year-old boy from El Paso responded to the recent shooting on Aug. 3 by starting the “El Paso Challenge,” with the help of his mother. The goal of the social media campaign is to encourage people to give back and spread kindness, in order to bring about healing.

Rose Gandarilla posted a photo of her son, Ruben, on Twitter, and a picture of his plan for the El Paso Challenge. The goal: honor the people killed in their city. The idea: challenge each person in El Paso to do 20 good deeds.

Ruben jotted down a few examples such as mowing someone’s lawn, visiting a nursing home, paying for someone’s lunch or dinner, taking flowers to the hospital, or simply telling someone how great they are.

“How to convince everyone to join the El Paso challenge: Hold up posters, pass out flyers, send it to Facebook,” Ruben’s note read, as reported by CBS News. “This will show the world people from El Paso are kind and care for each other.”

Ruben’s idea was successful: In about a day, more than 1,400 people were talking about the El Paso Challenge via Twitter. Almost 3,000 people shared his mom’s Facebook post.

Ruben Gandarilla’s challenge. Photo from Rose Gandarilla’s Facebook page.

Many people on social media, from Texas and other areas, started pledging 20 random acts of kindness with the El Paso Challenge hashtag.

Ruben didn’t just challenge strangers on social media—he also shared his idea in person. When he was in Taco Bell with his mother, he came up to a group of people and explained the challenge.

“This courageous young man came up to us at Taco Bell and challenged us to make El Paso a better place, the challenge is to do 20 good deeds in memory of the 20 who were killed in the Walmart shooting,” El Paso native Chris Castaneda wrote on Facebook, sharing a photo of his group with Ruben. “I challenge you to fulfill this challenge and share this on your page to challenge others.”

Some on social media who took up the challenge decided to pledge 22 acts of kindness – one for each victim of the shooting that happened in an El Paso Walmart.

Prosecutors are initiating a civil rights hate crime investigation and domestic terrorism charges. They will seek the death penalty for the suspect.

Read the CBS News story here.



OHSU doctor sparks viral twitter feed about patient stories

OHSU doctor sparks viral twitter feed about patient stories

Ester Choo is a physician at Oregon Health and Science University who has previously taken Twitter by storm over her experiences in the emergency room.

But this May, she started a new initiative, just in time for Mother’s Day, that encouraged patients, doctors, and all who have experienced the power of medicine to share their life-giving stories on Twitter with the hashtag #ShareAStoryInOneTweet.

Choo’s original tweet, in 154 characters, described a patient who had been clinically dead for twenty minutes before being revived by Choo and her staff. She stated he still called her every year on the anniversary of saving his life, and it is now the ten-year anniversary.

OHSU Esther Choo Tweet

Esther Choo’s #ShareAStoryInOneTweet

Hundreds responded to her challenge with incredible stories that would make any reader laugh, weep, and smile at their heartwarming experiences. The stories included the heavy impact of death on patients and doctors, miracles, dedication and perseverance, and hope for all.

Twitter Thread

Tweet in response to Esther Choo

See The Oregonian’s article for more responses to Choo’s Twitter Challenge.


Giving to charity made easy through #Donate Twitter hashtags

Giving to charity made easy through #Donate Twitter hashtags

Google partnered with #Pay to revolutionize charity campaigns in the UK. Termed #Donate, the new process allows social media users to link their Paypal and Twitter accounts to give money directly to charities.

“It has been our mission to find a way for charities to make the most of their online communities,” Nicole Parkinson, head of Social and Content at Good Agency, said in a press release.

Though by no means a one-click process, #Donate aspires to make giving easier and, consequently, more common.

Charities can set up a #Donate and create a personal hashtag. Users wishing to give money tweet the charity’s hashtag, the charity’s Twitter handle, and the amount of money they want to donate.

To confirm the donation, the charity tweets the giver a thank-you, and the donor must confirm the transaction by retweeting the thank-you tweet before money is transferred from PayPal.

“We are so excited to be involved in bringing this technology to the sector and helping organisations connect with their online communities in a deeper and richer way that truly drives value and unleashes the good,” Parkinson said.

ISIS threatens Twitter with “war,” “lions”

ISIS threatens Twitter with “war,” “lions”

After Twitter blocked terrorist accounts, the Islamic State began threatening the social media company.

“Your virtual war on us will cause a real war on you,” they said, using social media site “We told you from the beginning it’s not your war, but you didn’t get it and kept closing our accounts on Twitter, but we always come back. But when our lions come and take your breath, you will never come back to life.”

The post was written in Arabic and directed at Jack Dorsey, a co-founder of Twitter.

“Seems ISIS has illegally used my portrait of @jack,” Kevin Abosch, an Irish photographer, said. “Don’t they know about copyright?”

ISIS continues to exploit online resources to spread its messages of fear, anger, and hatred. The New York Times noted last August:

“ISIS is online jihad 3.0. Dozens of Twitter accounts spread its message, and it has posted some major speeches in seven languages. Its videos borrow from Madison Avenue and Hollywood, from combat video games and cable television dramas, and its sensational dispatches are echoed and amplified on social media. When its accounts are blocked, new ones appear immediately. It also uses services like JustPaste to publish battle summaries, SoundCloud to release audio reports, Instagram to share images and WhatsApp to spread graphics and videos.”

“[ISIS is] very adept at targeting a young audience,” said John G. Horgan, a University of Massachusetts psychologist.

Twitter and other social media sites, including YouTube, have been removing accounts and videos dedicated to promoting ISIS’ terrorism. Some employees have received threats of attack and even assassination in response, including Twitter’s CEO Dick Costolo.

“It’s against our terms of service,” Costolo said. “It’s against the law in many of the countries in which we operate for them to use it to promote their organization. When they do, we find those accounts and we shut them down, and we shut them down quite actively.”

“After regularly suspending their accounts . . . some folks affiliated with the organization used Twitter to declare that the employees of Twitter and the management of Twitter should be assassinated,” Costolo said. “That’s a jarring thing for anyone to have to deal with.”

Though nothing has come of the threats so far, Twitter takes security seriously. “Our security team is investigating the veracity of these threats with relevant law enforcement officials,” said Twitter spokesman Jim Prosser.

Kidnapped schoolgirls to be released in upcoming ceasefire

Kidnapped schoolgirls to be released in upcoming ceasefire


After almost seven months, Nigeria’s government finally reached an agreement with the terrorist group which kidnapped approximately 200 schoolgirls. On October 17, officials announced that a ceasefire would commence and the girls will be released.

The Islamic militant group, Boko Haram, kidnapped the girls from their school dormitory in the northeast town of Chibok. A few of the girls have since been released or have managed to escape, while most remain in captivity.

Their capture sparked international protests. The hashtag #BringBackOurGirls circulated with thousands of followers, encouraging sympathetic persons worldwide to write and call local governments to bring attention to the crisis.

Meanwhile, officials prepare not only for the girls’ release, but plan to deal with the consequences of their endeavor – both physical and psychological.

“What is happening to the girls is an open secret: sexual abuse. We are preparing based on this assumption, which is almost a given,” Dr. Ratidzai Ndhlovu, the country representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), told BuzzFeed.

Specialists like Dr. Nihinlola Mabogunje, the country director of Ipas, an international health NGO, stressed the importance of continually assisting the girls and their families to ease their way back into society. The traditional culture of rural Nigeria often associates great stigmas with victims of sexual abuse. Officials are hoping to quench such imputations before they begin.

“Let the family be counseled on traumatic counseling for them to understand that the girls will be helped when they get out,” Mabogunje said in an interview with BuzzFeed.

For several weeks, health officials, United Nations agencies, and international organizations have been developing plans for helping the girls heal physically and emotionally.