2014 Schedule
Interactive: March 7–11  •  Film: March 7–15  •  Music: March 11–16

Taboo Topics Online: Social Campaigns with Privacy

#sxsw #tabootopic

Mental health, drug and alcohol addiction, sexual health, financial debt—many of the critical topics Americans face are not ones they want to be publicly associated with and tied to online. So how then should nonprofits, marketers, those able to offer support enable digital conversations? Is social media off the table? Many current communications campaigns in the last year have broached taboo topics online using unique strategies and digital tools and proved that you can be social with secrets.

This panel will present best practices for capitalizing on the anonymity of the Internet without raising privacy concerns, and give an overview of the technologies, platforms, and tactics—from secret Facebook groups, to SnapChat messages, to SMS strategies-- available to social marketers. Learn from industry experts about the decisions they make to encourage the sharing of personal information while remaining sensitive to privacy.



Bob Filbin

Chief Data Scientist

DoSomething.org/Crisis Text Line


Deb Levine

Pres & Founder

YTH (formerly ISIS)

Deb Levine is President and Founder of YTH. She is the visionary leader of the organization, whose mission is to use digital and mobile media to engage youth and young adults around sexual and reproductive health and the development of healthy relationships. ISIS' groundbreaking tech projects include SexINFO text messaging, inSPOT ecards, and the TechSexUSA white paper. ISIS has won the Drucker Social Innovation award, the Grassroots Technie award and the Full Circle Fund Technology award. Deb's work has been cited in former President Clinton's Advisory Council Report on Education and the Internet, she was recently on the winning team for a White House mobile app challenge, and she was a Pop!Tech Social Innovation Fellow. She has been voted one of 40 over forty women to watch in 2013. She is on the Board of Directors of the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, and the California State PTA Health Commission. Deb has been working in the field of sexual health since 1993, when she discovered the power of the Internet to discuss sensitive topics while creating the immensely popular Go Ask Alice at Columbia University, the first online health Q&A.


Emily O'Brien

Dir of Youth Engagement

Inspire USA Foundation/ReachOut.com

Emily O’Brien is the Director of Youth Engagement at Inspire USA Foundation, the non-profit behind ReachOut.com, an online mental health service for teens and young adults. Since 2010, Emily has developed and implemented ReachOut’s youth engagement strategy. She helped launch ReachOut's moderated discussion forums, and ReachOut’s support and information text service, both innovative, youth-led programs that utilize technology to improve the well-being of young people.

Over the course of her career, Emily has worked as a social worker for the Australian federal government and as an emergency disaster case manager for the Department of Human Services. During Emily’s academic career at the University of New South Wales, she conducted social work placements in Saint Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney, as well as at multiple non-profit youth and human rights organizations in South India.

In Emily’s last position at Centrelink Australia, one of her roles was to conduct clinical social work assessments and provide case management to young people who had left home under troubled circumstances. From this experience Emily realized she wanted to specialize and focus on working with youth. Emily is driven by the belief that young people can get through tough times and lead happy lives.


Meg Rushton

Mgr, PR & Social Media

Ad Council

Meg Rushton is a Manager of PR and Social Media where she helps direct the various communications strategies—including press outreach, speech writing, media tours, and social messaging and content development--for the Ad Council and for more than 20 active PSA campaigns. Before joining the Ad Council, Meg was the Digital Marketing Publicist for Time Out New York and Time Out Kids where she managed all corporate communications, social channels, and public relations efforts. Previously, Meg was a Publicist for Random House Digital and Fodor’s Travel. Meg is a graduate of Vassar College and lives in Brooklyn.

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