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Witness, a Facebook app created by Force 7 for the British Red Cross

WITNESS produced by youth agency Force-7 on behalf of the British Red Cross

Witness, a Facebook app created by youth-focused agency Force 7 for the British Red Cross, places users at the heart of a horrifying knife attack, using their Facebook data to make the experience seem more impactful.

The film, which focuses on a young man who is stabbed on a bus ride at night, is personalised showing texts and social media updates from the viewer’s smartphone, as if they were there witnessing the scene; for example, putting status updates about the “weirdo on the bus” on Facebook and comments from friends in response.

The film (which has just the right amount of sinister realism) shows most of the fellow bus passengers sitting and doing nothing while one girl tries to stop the bleeding; one person even appears to be taking photos on their smartphone. Users can scroll down the app for more advice on how to deal with a bleeding wound.

Imagine you were sitting on a night bus and a knife attack occurred right in front of you.

This terrifying prospect forms the backdrop of a new interactive film – accessed via Facebook – that the British Red Cross has produced to help young people aged 15 and over learn first aid.

The film presents all the action through the viewer’s eyes, so it’s as if you’re sitting right there watching as an argument starts and a teenager is stabbed. And you see for yourself how reluctant people can be to step forward and help during a first aid emergency.

‘Real-life’ drama

But here’s the really clever part. When you access the film via Facebook, key details of the story are automatically personalised to make the experience more realistic.

So suddenly the bus approaching the bus stop has your home town written on its front. And the messages coming through to the viewer’s smartphone will feature their own Facebook friends. It all looks unnervingly familiar.

Bystander effect

Paul Donnelly, head of campaigns, explains the thinking behind the new Facebook app: “We’ve used the latest technology to ensure that watching the film will be a spookily realistic experience.

“The film highlights how the ‘bystander effect’ can inhibit people – but we also show how easy it is to step forward and do something basic that could save someone’s life.”

Everyone watching the film will learn simple but invaluable advice on how to deal with a bleeding wound. That means, if they’re ever unlucky enough to witness the real thing, they’ll know how to act.

Force-7 Ltd 2012, 161 High Street, Hull, HU1 1NQ
Tel: (01482) 223883; E-mail:

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