At SXSW, the annual tech startup conference in Austin, 13 homeless men are hanging around the conference center wearing white shirts that say “I’m _____, a 4G hotspot.” Each is carrying a wireless internet device, and for a PayPal donation, will provide conference-goers with internet access for as long as they want.
The men are part of a campaign called “Homeless Hotspots,” devised by a marketing firm called BBH. It effectively debuted today, and started backfiring immediately.
The first person to flag the stunt as a little off was the New York Times’s David Gallagher, who called the plan it “a little dystopian.” Since then, the Internet’s been aghast: The story has been both amplified and deprived of context, inspiring thousands of knee-jerk responses. It’s really not going over very well at all.
But the mastermind of the campaign, Saneel Radia, the Head of Innovation at BBH New York, is standing by the campaign, though he said he understands the backlash.
“The worry is that these people are suddenly just hardware,” he said, “but frankly, I wouldn’t have done this if i didn’t believe otherwise,” He added, “we’re very open to this criticism.”
Read more at buzzfeed.com
So what do you think? Is assigning homeless people as Wi-Fi hotspots inhumane? Do you think this is a good way of giving the homeless jobs? Let us know your thoughts by posting your comments.