CNN: Go shopping; change the world.

Basically, there's this new cell phone application (CauseWorld) that sends you advertisements in exchange for which corporations make tiny donations to [mostly] non-controversial charities. [Edit: Although see the comments concerning the very problematic Autism Speaks, one of the 29 charities CauseWorld lists on its website here.] You open the app and it tells you what stores are nearby. In the process, you earn "karmas" (I know, I know), enough of which will allow you to funnel money to pay to plant a tree, feed a chimp, support the Red Cross, or any other number of things that are good.

I'm going to go on record as being mostly in favor of [mostly] non-controversial charities (my slight hesitation comes from my concern that they may detract support from controversial groups that do important work, often with less money going to administrative salaries).

But yes, I like chimps and trees and Haitians and dislike cancer, earthquakes, and hunger.

I have a couple of problems with this story, though.

"Changing the world" strikes me as a bit overblown. Actually, Citibank (one of the app's sponsors) has done more world changing than I'd have preferred. You know, if large corporations did want to change the world, they could start by changing their own practices. That would actually be much more direct than paying folks to plant trees.

Second, I object to the headline, "Go shopping; change the world". It's a bit misleading, in that one accumulates "karmas" merely by viewing advertisements. I'm also not anti-shopping by any stretch of the imagination, but I'd hardly consider shopping in-and-of itself world-changing. The global economy is complicated, but there are plenty of purchases that neither change the status quo nor improve the world.

So sure, huzzah for charity. But let's call CauseWorld what it is, a cost-effective way for companies to increase advertising exposure while making relatively small contributions to carefully selected, corporate-friendly charities. This isn't a bad thing, but it's certainly not revolutionary.

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