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CAUSE: The social network for change

The Tab sat down with three Cambridge students to discuss the development of their start up: the social network for activists


Last week, The Tab sat down with Gabriel Brown, Geno Racklin Asher, and Morgan Saville, three third years at King’s College to discuss the journey of their start-up. CAUSE is a social network designed to empower and aid activists in the modern, digital age. The three started the company during their time at Cambridge and have been steadily gaining ground, the alpha version of their app set to release in October.

Whilst Geno and Morgan concentrate on the technical development side of things, such as their encryption protocols, Gabriel spends as much time as possible pitching and spreading CAUSE’s mission. The three were drawn together by a shared commitment to CAUSE’s vision and have spent their time at university developing the app.

Who is the app for?

CAUSE is a social network designed for activists. What all three founders stressed to me in our discussions was the lack of tools available to activists, which would enable them to attend and organise protests effectively. “We’re trying to give activists as much confidence as possible”, says Gabriel. Large social networks these days seem to “sow division rather than unity.”

In particular, they cited how chaotic it is to find out information about events when it is all coming at you from multiple channels. Geno also highlighted that a lot of information about these events is still spread through private mailing lists, making it hard to start out in activism, even when you would really like to.

Their app will have four main features to aid in their cause: a discovery function, allowing you to find out what action is happening; a feed; a messages service where you can contact protest organisers; and an Emergency SMS. This would allow you to quickly release a customised message to a contact in case trouble arises at a protest for example.

These four features form the backbone of CAUSE’s mission and are the main way in which they hope to make a difference in the way activism is practiced in this generation.

These four features form the backbone of CAUSE’s mission and are the main way in which they hope to make a difference in the way activism is practiced in this generation.

One of CAUSE’s further concerns was digital security. Initially, the plans were to make the company a nonprofit, however, this proved difficult. They quickly realised it would be difficult to cover costs without running ads, which would at the same time unfortunately undermine their claims to privacy.

They have since focused not merely on the physical rights of activists, at protests, but their digital rights as well and are developing ways to run ads that would not track users’ data and undermine their digital privacy. For example, their encrypted SMS system would not share any information with the app’s developers and their general message service would also be encrypted.

This commitment to encryption has been a part of ethos of CAUSE since the very beginning: “The thing that has never really changed is that we want to provide a space for activists to connect with protest organisers and have that done in a secure and private way.” This is also one of the ways in which CAUSE thinks that the selection of social networks available to activists is slim – many of these networks collect data on people.

Geno said, “it’s very problematic, especially for people like activists who want to make sure they feel protected and safe.”

Gabriel (left) and Morgan (right) (image credits: The King's ELab)

Gabriel (left) and Morgan (right) (Image credits: The King’s ELab)

The future of CAUSE

The founders are gearing up for the official release of the alpha version of their app and are excited in particular for the opportunities that Cambridge can offer, as a vibrant community with a “driving activist environment”. They will be opening up the platform to even more activists and are looking forward to the real-time feedback they will receive from them.

As part of this release, the team are also searching for passionate people who are involved in activism to write content for a blog for CAUSE – activism is collaborative.

Gabriel stressed the importance of intersectional activism and hearing and listening to all voices: “Whilst we have experiences with activism, our experiences are necessarily limited – true activism is intersectional, and the only way that we’re going to be able to create a platform for everyone is by hearing what everyone has to say.”

For those interested in writing for CAUSE, please see their website cause.cx or contact Gabriel Brown.