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‘Smog’ enshrouds top Chinese websites for Earth Hour

WWF website grey-outGreen group WWF clouded out a number of popular websites in China with ‘digital smog’ as part of an environmental awareness campaign to mark Earth Hour.

When internet uses visited Chinese websites such as Ren Ren, Ten Cent, Ushi and Youku during Earth Hour on Saturday they were greeted by a grey mirk enshrouding the site to symbolise the pollution that blights many parts of China.

By tracking IP addresses, the amount of ‘smog’ on screen reflected the amount of actual smog outdoors at their current time and location.

Users were greeted with the pop-up message: “If you don’t accept this web experience, why would you put up with it in real life?

Darius Karbassioun, head of engagement planning at BBH China, the agency behind the campaign, said: “We made the digital space our battleground of choice again for a critical reason. Air pollution has become ubiquitous in China. The one place that people can hide from air pollution with no problem is in their digital lives. By hijacking netizen’s favourite websites with smog, we would give them no choice but to confront the problem head on.”

Zhang Jingning, head of digital communications at WWF China, added:  “A smog on the screen is not as harmful as a smog to a human being. But this disruption to a daily activity will hopefully create the awareness we need to address China’s air pollution hazard and drive traffic to Earth Hour for more answers.”

The campaign is part of WWF’s ‘Blue Sky’ initiative in China. Yesterday, the group announced that it was launching an iPhone app and an interactive billboard in Beijing that turns grey sky blue.

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