Top 8 Apps for the Anti-Trafficking Activist
Perhaps you remember when mobile applications on smartphone devices were new enough that people - especially in advertisements, but also my dad - would say “Oh, that thing you just mentioned or that problem you have - there’s an app for that!”
At any rate, there are indeed apps that can help us advocate for the end of human trafficking. In fact, there are so many that I have done the hard work for you. Here are 8 apps that promise to make advocating easier. Think of them as your MySpace Top 8, if you want.
These first three apps were designed to keep you informed about the lawmaking process and read bills that lawmakers are considering. These apps let you know when a bill will be voted on and who represents you in that vote, so that you can contact them to let them know how you, as their constituent, want them to vote on this issue. If you notice that your lawmakers (either on a state or national level) are not talking about trafficking or are working to pass laws that would potentially harm victims, following legislation will help you know what is being done.
LegislationTrack: 3 / 4 stars
In this app’s “Free Trial Mode”, you are able to track up to 10 bills at a time. Tracking a bill signs you up to receive notifications if anything happens or changes, so that you don’t have to keep searching for the bill. In addition, you are given information about your state’s elected officials, such as Attorney General or Secretary of Education, and the members and committees of both federal and statewide legislative bodies. To track an unlimited number of bills, you are required to purchase a yearly subscription, which would put you back a whopping $599 (yikes!). There is also a desktop site, which is even easier to use!
TrackBill: 2 / 4 stars
This app is great for finding information about a particular bill or issue up for debate in Congress. However, in order to actually track the bills, you need to pay an unspecified amount. When you click on “request demo” in the bottom right-hand corner of the app, you are taken to a website that tells you to fill in your information and request to have a 7-day trial of the full features. If you want to use this app without have the full features, it still is an easy way to look up legislation - you just have to perform the search each time.
FreeGov: 1 / 4 stars
What sets this app apart is that it includes information relevant to the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, American Samoa and District of Columbia, in addition to the fifty states. Otherwise, it doesn’t have much going for it, since you have to set specific parameters for your search, filtering by legislative body and status in legislative process. Basically, you would have to know a far amount of details in order to search for the piece of legislation you are trying to learn more about.
Download: iOS only
Once you know which bills are being considered, the next step is to contact your representatives. Besides an in-person interview, calling members of Congress is the most effective way to have your voice heard. Staffers tally calls, and the count is given to your representatives so that they have an idea of how strongly their constituents feel about a current issue.
Countable: 3.5 / 4 stars
This app tries to have it all: information on bills, contact information for representatives, and news about a personalized set of issues. For the most part, it pulls off all three, but the flow of the app takes some effort to understand. A unique feature of this app is the ability to search in four categories: news, bills, profiles (other people using Countable) and lawmakers. You can also send video messages to your representatives! But the main function of Countable, and the source of its name, is the user’s ability to vote and comment on legislation being considered by members of Congress. Users even have the option of sending their opinions to elected officials, and the notification settings are easily customizable. They also have a desktop site.
5 Calls: 3.5 / 4 stars
This app aims to make advocacy accessible, enabling everyday citizens to have a voice when it’s needed most. After learning your location, the app asks, “What’s important to you?” and gives you a list of potential actions. When you pick an issue, the next page tells you a little more about the issue you have selected and at the bottom of the page are your representatives in Congress. The next screen displays the official’s contact information and, most importantly, gives you a script to follow as you call their office. Learn how to support this volunteer effort through their site.
Stance: 3 / 4 stars
This app is similar to 5 Calls, but even simpler. Stance does not give any background on issues, but it still gets the job done. If you’re already acquainted with the issues and legislation being discussed, and just want a simple way to make contact with your representatives, Stance might be the right app for you.
Brigade: 1 / 4 stars
To get started on this app, build your political identity by taking positions on twenty-one separate issues. As you answer these prompts, Brigade tells you how your stance aligns with those in your state. That is where this app’s usefulness ends, because after you have gone through all of that, all you can do is sign various petitions that are sent to your representatives. While this may not impact actual legislation, you are at least directed to valuable contact information and can add your voice to existing petitions.
Buycott: 4 / 4 Stars
This one is different, but in the best way. Open it up and scan any barcode, and Buycott will tell you if the parent company engages in any unethical practices, such as sourcing ingredients from areas where child slavery is prevalent. If you don’t happen to be around any barcodes, there is also an “Explore” function where you can browse different product to see if they are ethically sourced. The app even asks you what causes you most care about and prioritizes the information from there. Other features include the ability to share your boycott on connected social media account and message the companies about why you are refusing to purchase their product. As the app description says, “vote with your wallet to create change.”
With perhaps the exception of Buycott, these apps are rather exclusive to the United States. However, the legislation trackers can be used internationally by anyone who wants to read up on U.S. laws-in-the-making. To learn how to contact government officials and get involved in events, rallies, marches and the like, may I suggest the ubiquitous Facebook. Because Facebook is used by about a third of the world’s population, it already has the resources and following that a separate app would have to spend years gathering, and these features are available almost worldwide.
You don't have to wait until December to be a part of the impact. Join the Dressember Collective and become part of a powerful community of advocates and donors furthering the work and impact of the Dressember Foundation through monthly giving.
About the Author
Rae Rohm is an avid baker, an enthusiastic storyteller, and a thoughtful writer who hails from Delaware. She is a graduate of Biola University, where she studied journalism. When she is not teaching people about the glories of her home state, she can be found enjoying nature with her sweet but mischievous puppy, singing along to music while running on the treadmill, and making gifts for her family and friends. Rae loves using her skills and talents to bring all people - past and present, near and far - into fellowship with one another.