Strategic Web Usability

10,000 Tweets for Human Rights

Today marks my 10,000th semi-random thought on Twitter, but this post isn't really about Twitter. Suffice it to say that I've gotten a lot from my time on social media, both personally and professionally, and have been constantly amazed at the generosity of my peers. Today, I'd like to give something back, so I'm using my 10,000th tweet to raise $10,000 for human rights.

First, a bit of history. Back in graduate school (in the early 90s), I decided I needed to get more "involved". Like most people, I wasn't sure exactly what that meant, but I had always felt some connection to human rights causes, and so a friend and I decided to check out the university chapter of Amnesty International.

Most of the chapter members were undergrads and they were clearly itching to be activists. To be honest, I've never been very comfortable as an activist, at least not in the shouting, sign-toting sense. Maybe it's because I came of age in the 80s, or maybe it's just the incurable introvert in me. So, I decided to do my part by writing letters for Amnesty's Urgent Action Network.

At first, this was mostly cathartic. Writing letters, especially the act of putting pen to paper (which I didn't do much even 15 years ago), made me feel like I was doing something. Still, they were just letters.

Two months later, my definition of "just letters" changed forever. I was reading Amnesty's monthly updates and a name on the list of released political prisoners sounded familiar. I shuffled through my letters, and there it was. I had written a letter for a young woman, a wrongfully-accused dissident, and now she was free. I'm not saying I did it, but I was a part of it. This was real.

I'm not a religious man, in the way most people use the word, but I do believe that there is evil in this world. Power twists and corrupts, and those who hold that power will torture and kill to keep it. This is not a conspiracy theory. It happens every day.

Across thousands of miles, one letter can shine a light in a dark corner. Somehow, despite their power, evil men are cowards. The flickering flame of one letter can send them scattering back into the darkness. The torch of a thousand letters can shame them into a veneer of decency.

In this time of recession and fear, it can be hard to feel charitable. You may wake up tomorrow wondering if you'll still have a job, the money to pay your rent, or the means to provide for your family. These are very real and very human fears. Somewhere, though, there is a fear that most of us, thankfully, can barely comprehend. Somewhere, an innocent man or woman will wake up tomorrow wondering if this will be the day that they are finally murdered by their captors.

Tomorrow morning, a man will wake up wondering if this is the day he will be executed for the crime of peacefully protesting against his government. Tomorrow morning, the family of a university professor will wake up wondering if they'll ever see him alive again. Tomorrow morning, a group of farmers will wonder if this is the day their homes will be burned to the ground by mercenaries. These are only three stories of hundreds, all of them happening right now.

Please join me in helping Amnesty International and protecting the lives and liberties of our fellow human beings around the world. The following link goes to, which is helping me track this 10,000 Tweets campaign:

Donate Today

Thank you for anything you can do to help, and please re-tweet this post.

Sean D. Francis

 · Tuesday, May 11
I think this is a wonderful concept. Count me in.


 · Tuesday, May 11
Well said, my friend. It's important to remind ourselves that others are not so lucky to wake up to freedom every day.

Mike Santoro

 · Tuesday, May 11
I'm sharing your message with everyone. Good luck!

Dana Lookadoo

 · Tuesday, May 11
I'm so touched and motivated by your post. I'm very familiar with Amnesty International, and many may not realize that the active volunteers who go to other countries to rescue people often risk their own lives. I gave once upon a time, using your 10,000th tweet as the spark to get out of myself once again! Thanks!

Dr. Pete

 · Tuesday, May 11
Thanks, everyone! We're at 60+ re-tweets and almost $500 donated. It's a great start!

Steph Woods

 · Wednesday, May 12
Excellent post Dr. Pete. I love it that you're trying to raise awareness for a very good cause. You remind me that I need to start being more active for causes as well. Every little bit helps!

On a separate note - I wasn't able to donate because I don't have a valid zip code (because I am not American). I am emailing right now for more details on how Canadians can donate. I'll keep you guys posted!

Dr. Pete

 · Wednesday, May 12
@Steph - Thanks. A UK friend told me the same thing. Didn't realize that was US-only when I set this up :(

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 · Tuesday, May 18
re-tweeted but as mentionned i wasn't able to donate :( whatever, it's relayed on twitter :)

Urgent Action Network

 · Wednesday, May 19
Dear Dr. Pete,

Thank you for your support! Dedicated people like you help us fulfill our mission of defending human rights around the world. Your efforts in promoting the Urgent Action Network and Amnesty International’s mission, as well as your passion for this cause helps fuel actions and raise awareness. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions and we invite your supporters to be rapid responders, and write a letter that might save a life:

On behalf of Amnesty International and the Urgent Action Network, we thank you for your devotion and continued commitment.

Germany hotelier

 · Wednesday, May 26
Oh, I've been shocked to know that you're the winner of the SEMMY!
Keep up!


 · Sunday, May 30
re-tweeted but as mentionned i wasn't able to donate :( whatever, it's relayed on twitter :)

Jay Mini

 · Monday, June 7
Nice concept, great! :)


 · Friday, June 18
That was a great moment and an amazing initiative.

Adam Hayes

 · Wednesday, July 7
Being involved is so key. There are too many people in the world that are just content living, without leaving their mark. Make a difference. However you decide to help out, it could mean the world to someone else.


 · Friday, July 9
Great post.. and yes we do need to do a lot of efforts to create awareness about the Human rights among the masses.

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 · Wednesday, July 14
amazing post - so important not to take freedom for granted. thank you and good luck.

Street Tag

 · Sunday, July 25
This article change considerably my perspective on twitter as a tool for humanity


 · Friday, August 6
Very interesting analysis. Hope it will help a bit changing the world.

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 · Wednesday, August 18
Nice! That was a great moment and an amazing initiative.


 · Thursday, August 26
Great cause that doesn't get enough attention. That's pretty cool that your letter may have directly lead to her release. More people need to get involved in things like this.
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