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Battlefront Turns UK 'Net Junkies into Agents for Change


'Save the future, save the
world (forget the cheerleader)'

To encourage teens to use the web "as a canvas for social change," the UK's Channel 4 and AOL-owned social network Bebo launched Battlefront.

The site's tagline is "You're already involved." 19 young people were profiled to discuss a broad array of social issues. Forums are available for ongoing conversation, and embeddable site badges encourage kids to spread the word.

Users are invited to create personal campaigns to incite change. Toward this end, 45 "mentors" from viral, publishing and digital marketing were brought aboard available to assist them. No single malady is targeted. One, for example, seeks to persuade Coca-Cola to distribute condoms in developing nations; another poses an argument for reusing disposable cups.

"On the web there are lots of ways to co-ordinate change. We wanted to show teens how to get involved and make those changes happen in your life, showing what those campaigns need," said Channel 4 commissioner Matt Locke to the Guardian.

"This is really about teens teaching other teens about these issues."

To bring Battlefront's issues to the outside world, Channel 4 will broadcast a series of programs, five in November and five in June, during half-hour morning slots normally reserved for educational programs.

After June, Battlefront will "degrade gracefully back into the web," said Locke. Campaigns, including online video and blogs, will be hosted online "indefinitely."

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