Using text messages for family planning in Ghana

Under a catchy blog post title "The Opposite of Sexting", the World Bank's Development Impact blog reports on a random control trial from Ghana of a text messaging intervention. Although SMS has long since lost out to other messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, it doesn't require WiFi or data bundles. The access it allows to different groups is strong selling point. In addition, it can be a fully-automated system. Interestingly, however, the messages were sent in English. 750 girls in 38 secondary schools throughout Ghana received one of three streams of messages over the course of 12 weeks. In a country of 70+ languages, including 11 additional government-sponsored languages in education, the choice of English and pure text-based messages (without images, emojis, etc.) is prohibitive and restrictive. 

Girls in the "unidirectional intervention" received one health fact per week for 12 weeks. This is one of those facts. 

Girls in the "unidirectional intervention" received one health fact per week for 12 weeks. This is one of those facts. 

A Times Exhibit Puts the Focus on Africa - "Looking Forward" is the title of this year's Lagos Photo Festival. The New York Times Lens blog highlights some of the photographs from this year's exhibit, which examine "how African communities see themselves and their future". 

Thousands of Migrants Are Crossing the Balkans on Foot - 58,000 refugees and migrants arrived in Slovenia this week. The Atlantic highlights some of the startling images of this migration.

Staging, Manipulation and Truth in Photography - At the World Press photo competition this year, organisers surveyed the photographers who entered. The online survey reveals some disturbing trends, the most notable being the staging of photographs. Stanley Greene, of Noor Images, said, "I think setting up photos — where they are completely staged — is very widespread. I’ve seen it done by very-well-known photographers, mostly in conflict or disaster situations. I’ve witnessed photographers try to recreate moments when they arrived to a scene too late."

How Emojis Find Their Way to Phones - Unicode, an organisation whose task is to standardise punctuation marks and other grammatical items in computers, now has emojis on their agenda. "In deciding which emojis to add, the Unicode Consortium considers factors including compatibility...and frequency of use...". The New York Times draws back the veil on this mysterious organisation. 

Ultra-orthodox Jews are using WhatsApp to defy their rabbis’ internet ban - WhatsApp has been described as a "great spiritual danger" by a group of rabbis in Israel. As the app is not directly connected to the Internet, it has not been banned by Ultra-orthodox Jewish sects, which limits the online activities of its communities.