Information Provision, Consent, and Respect

by | Apr 5, 2020 | ICT4D |

About once a month or so an email arrives in my inbox reminding me that I can unsubscribe to a mailing list. Actually I receive a couple of these emails from different mailing lists I’m a part of. To remain on the mailing list, I do not need to do anything. It’s a simple reminder that I can unsubscribe.

This is on top of the ‘unsubscribe’ link at the bottom of each email that many mailing list (including this one) use.

Many organisations are working hard to provide information about COVID-19 to people. Many NGOs are working night and day to ensure the information gets out to vulnerable people and communities in some of the hardest to reach places. Email lists are not very useful in many of these contexts, however SMS is.

But we can learn from email mailing lists in how we provide information over SMS. Obviously the first step is asking people for permission to send them information. After that, we can send them a message once a month or every few weeks reminding them that they can ‘unsubscribe’ from the SMS list. This could be done automatically by the recipient sending ‘STOP’ in reply to the message. Or some other simple way. This adds an element of respectfulness into our approach.

Information provision, even in a time of a pandemic, doesn’t have to be shouting and domineering. We have a choice in our approach. And the choice is up to us.

Photo by Tiago Felipe Ferreira

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