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“Slacktivism” appears to be a real phenomenon

Struck by several things in Mario Macis’ presentation today at ASSA. He reported results from an experiment in which half of participants were randomly given the option to broadcast their donation activity to friends on Facebook using an app, “HelpAttack!”.

First item of note: out of more than 6 million Facebook users reached through advertizing, there were 2,000 likes and only 18 processed pledges. How sad!

Second: there were 0 additional pledges through network effects.

Additional results in the paper, but these stood out to me. It’s possible that one needs direct solicitation from one friend to the next in order to observe peer effects. Petrie and Smith, Jonathan Meer, and Catherine Carman have also apparently studied this question in alternate settings with more positive results.

I must admit to being disappointed at how, during the two crowdfunders AidGrade has done, people would routinely sign up to be notified when more data came out but at the same time would not be willing to contribute to the production of said data. It’s completely natural but a bit sad.

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