Facebook, Social Media Week-backed coalition holds 'Empathy Week' in New York

Other supporting partners include Grey Group, Adobe, Code and Theory, Edelman, Whalar and Julius.

Following on a heels of a successful pilot program in London, industry coalition The 404, which includes Facebook and Social Media Week, will host a five-day event in New York focused on the declining empathy among young people on social media.

Starting today through December 6, Empathy Week will consist of a number of workshops, discussions and brainstorms with industry executives, influencers and high school students around how to drive more empathetic behavior online, with the week culminating at Facebook's Partner Center in New York on Friday. The objective is to take Empathy Week to other global markets in the future.

The 404 launched in May and includes various companies across marketing, technology, technology, media and creativity. Member companies supporting this effort, in addition to Facebook and Social Media Week, include Grey Group, Adobe, Code and Theory, Edelman, Whalar, Holler and Julius.

"We launched The 404 because we felt the industry needed a space to collaborate on problems that felt urgent, that we are uniquely positioned to take on, and that we had an obligation to impact in significant ways," said Toby Daniels, founder of Social Media Week and CEO Crowdcentric.

404 members also consist of: IBM Watson, Salesforce, Microsoft, Attention Capital, Refinery29, GroupM, TBWA, Droga5 and Accenture.

On October 29, the coalition brought together more than two dozen students, influencers and industry leaders in London as part of an Empathy Day pilot event. After the event, 81 percent of the students said they plan on taking an active role in communicating what they learned from the event to their friends and family. More than eight in 10 (81 percent) of the participating students also said the most important thing this industry can do is provide better education around how to interact on social media. 

Shauna Sweeney, head of global industry marketing at Facebook, said the tech giant is proud to be hosting Empathy Week at its Partner Center in New York because the centers have been "built with the intention of global communities gathering together to foster conversations that help create positive change and move the industry forward."

Grey Group has decided to support Empathy Week because the network believes that "fostering empathetic digital citizens of the future is critical to the health and longevity of these communities," according to Worldwide Chief Innovation Officer Daniel Bennett. He added that it all starts with helping educate the next generation around these issues.

Andrew Foote, GM of Edelman US, believes the problems around empathy are deep-rooted and can’t be fixed with messaging alone. "We - as a society - can’t PSA our way out of this empathy deficit," said Foote. "As an industry, the most meaningful thing we can do is create or support programs that bring people together and promote the power of kindness, compassion, and fighting negativity with positivity."

In addition to Empathy Week activities, The 404 is launching an influencer campaign dubbed #actsofempathy, aimed at inspiring people to take action and join the movement by sharing their stories of empathy.

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