We all know what comes to mind when you hear the word Bill Gates- Microsoft, well others think Windows. Microsoft was founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen on April 4, 1975, to develop and sell BASIC interpreters for the Altair 8800. It rose to dominate the personal computer operating system market with MS-DOS in the mid-1980s, followed by Microsoft Windows.
The company’s 1986 initial public offering (IPO), and subsequent rise in its share price, created three billionaires and an estimated 12,000 millionaires among Microsoft employees. Since the 1990s, it has increasingly diversified from the operating system market and has made a number of corporate acquisitions, their largest being the acquisition of LinkedIn for $26.2 billion in December 2016, followed by their acquisition of Skype Technologies for $8.5 billion in May 2011.
Bill Gates always been excited about social networks and how powerful they can be in developing countries because Back in 2007, Microsoft invested$240 million in Facebook for a 1.6% stake. It valued Facebook at $15 billion, and everybody laughed(Who has the last laugh now?🤣) .Gates sees social media as a positive force in the world, but – despite the worldwide use of sites like Facebook and Twitter – claims it hasn’t reached its potential.
In Microsoft’s 2013 Faculty Summit, Bill Gates claimed, “People can make fun of it [social media] because a lot of it is used for ‘what my cat had for breakfast’-type things, but I think of it in a more broader context, which is the enrichment of communications for people who have common interests. Social media will be profound in terms of people getting advice about their life and learning different things, [but] it’s not at that level yet.”
Things like the effect of social media in developing countries are what made Bill Gates and his wife Melinda start the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000 because they believe mobile devices have such a strong impact in marginalized areas, connection for marginalized people has the potential to lift them out of poverty. Bill Gates himself uses LinkedIn, the popular professional networking site, to ask how technology can be better used to support his charitable causes, Network World reports. Bill and Melinda strongly believe in the power of sharing information through various channels to create more awareness of the wonderful work that they are doing in Health, Education, Agriculture, financial inclusion and social inclusion for women.As stated on their website, By sharing high-quality data, The Gates Foundation and its partners can better understand the problems they are trying to solve while developing more efficient and effective strategies to overcome them. With an open exchange of information and ideas, they can better assess evidence, identify opportunities, build trust and learn for each other’s experiences. Millions of people who use various social networks get to access the various reports released by this organization hence more advancement of their work with digital media.
Their annual letter which touches on various issues they seek to address is read by millions of people both on their respective websites and re-distributed by various news channels, digital media platforms and independent influencers online. Bill Gates himself posts the annual letter on his websites where he writes about the causes he cares about.He even tried to make a viral video with Jimmy Fallon to raise awareness for his Gates Notes website, which has been watched by 1.9million people on YouTube.
Bill and Melinda Gates have been pursuing their philanthropic causes in various developing countries and leveraging on mobile phones to lift people, especially women out of poverty is one of the areas they seem to be most interested about. Last year, they visited a number of countries where they joined and supported local startups using mobile phones to connect women with opportunity.As Melinda states in the 2019 letter, In rich countries, mobile phones make it easier to do things we were already doing—send an email instead of snail mail, navigate the world without wrestling with a map, hail a ride without standing outside in the rain. But for the world’s most marginalized women, a mobile phone doesn’t just make their old life more convenient; it can help them build an entirely new life. That’s because connectivity is a solution to marginalization.
Using social media to de-marginalize communities is a step towards giving these people more so women access to opportunity because people get connected in ways never before possible, enabling users to maintain friendships across time and distance. It enables those who are socially isolated or somehow set apart from their immediate physical community to connect with like-minded or like-situated people. Digital media also facilitates interaction across social, economic, cultural, political, religious and ideological boundaries, allowing for enhanced understanding. Social media can help to deepen relationships and facilitate the formation of support networks among marginalized areas , various support groups have been formed to foster a spirit of togetherness and support, for example, there exists a Kenyan group in Facebook by the name “52-WEEK SAVINGS CHALLENGE” which is a community of people who want to cultivate a culture of saving, investing and creating, growing and maintaining wealth. This is just a tip of the iceberg on how mobile phones combined with social networks can have a real economic impact in people’s lives.
Melinda goes further and states, “If you’re a woman who has never stepped into a bank, mobile banking offers you a foothold in the formal economy and a chance at financial independence. If you’re expected to do all the cooking, cleaning, and child-rearing, your income potential improves dramatically as you gain opportunities to connect with customers, trainings, and professional organizations—all from your home. If you’re worried about the stigma you’ll encounter when you ask for contraceptives at your local clinic, an e-commerce delivery platform can help you reassert control over your body and your future. In Kenya and Nigeria, gender and development programs are putting a new focus on teaching women digital literacy skills in order to leverage various platforms like Facebook and YouTube to access and learn more about these opportunities.
Bill and Melinda Gates have a point, if women in marginalized areas are given skills on how to effectively use digital media now that they have mobile phones, they could challenge the status quo on the current way some of the things and issues are being handled. Women will start being more expressive about these issues, for example, In October 2017, Alyssa Milano asked the women of Twitter to write ‘#MeToo’ if they had ever been sexually harassed or assaulted.Tens of thousands of women responded. Within weeks, one of the most powerful men on the planet was toppled and industries from entertainment to politics were given a shake-up. One lone voice became a shared voice, which became a rally cry. “Time’s up,” called Oprah from her Golden Globes podium and across the world, there was a powerful feeling she could be right.
Social media has given more people a voice – and in particular, it’s given women in developing countries like those in Africa a new and immediate way of communicating and galvanizing their agendas. Whether via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram, social media provides ready communities for women who have previously felt marginalized and powerless, helping to them find a tribe and amplify their voice.
While traditional media has long been central to informing the public and focusing public attention on particular subjects, digital media is helping to amplify the response to humanitarian crises and to support those afflicted by these crises. During the Arab Spring a revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests in the Middle East and North Africa between 2010 and 2012 , digital media served as a vehicle to mobilize resources, organize protests and draw global attention to the events.
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