The recent boom in social activism around the world inspired us to develop the ACT (Activist's Common Toolkit). Many recent reports of riots and uprisings in countries such as China and Chile have made it clear that people are demanding change, and we empathize with that idea. We wanted to create a tool that people who care about what's going on in the world can keep others informed. Our team brainstormed on various problems facing our world and tried to decide on the best one to tackle. We quickly realized that a lot of corporations act unethically without the general public's awareness. We wanted to give activists the tools to raise awareness and get this information out to the public. To start, we thought of a way to use targeted advertising against the big corporations for the public good.

What it does

The ACT's Instagram Logo Search module searches any instagram profile given to it for all images, then using the Google Cloud Vision API, it detects logos of companies within the image. We then use that data to allow activists to send customized direct messages to consumers about companies that may be dishonest or untrustworthy. This allows activists the ability to quickly find the people who may be unaware of what kind of company they are supporting when using certain products and educate them on what the company is really like.

How we built it

Using Python and Google's Cloud Vision API, the program analyzes an Instagram user's page for images that contain corporate logos. The program then messages the user, telling them about potentially controversial actions these corporations have done, along with reputable sources in the event the user wants to read more into it. We developed a simple web interface for the program through Python, flask, and Jinja2 templating. This web interface reads an instagram URL, gathers all images from that instagram URL, then analyzes them using the Cloud Vision API. The results of which images and what logos are then displayed to the user, and the program sends a message to the profile where the images were gathered.

Challenges we ran into

One of our biggest problems was narrowing our idea down. We were inspired by the recent rise of social activism in multiple countries, but we weren't sure how to translate that passion into something useful. We knew social media has a big impact on our society and we wanted to find some way to improve the lives of people using it. In the end, we thought of a broad idea and develeped one portion of it. Implementing this was not easy: We originally had trouble getting the Vision API to read in images in tests, but we were able to solve this problem by reading the Cloud Vision API documentation. We also wanted the entire app to be hosted on the Google Cloud App Engine, but we couldn't get some of the python libaries running on it.

Accomplishments that we’re proud of

The accomplishment we're most proud of in this project is the webpage we designed. It's simple and easy to use which is a miracle because none of our team members had previous UI experience. We are also proud that we discovered how to interface with Google Cloud, specifically the Vision API, which provides very robust image analysis. We only utilized logos for this module, but the Cloud API offers many different services we would like to explore in the future.

What we learned

We learned how to use the Google Cloud Vision API to detect characteristic of an image, specifically company logos. We also learned how to set up a web site using ptyhon, flask, and Jinja2 templating. We were able to connect these two services to display the results of many analyzed images on a nice web interface. We used this to analyze Instagram pages using a python ibrary and to message instagram users with information about the companies' logos we found. We also researched how to effectively protest online to make our app as powerful as possible for activists.

What's next for ACT?

We intend to develop ACT into a fully-featured framework that provides software to activists who want to bring their protests online as efficiently as possible to gather support and inform the unaware. Tools like politician fact-checkers, mass emailers, and our already-built Instagram Logo Search module would equip activists with programs that could bring social campaigns to new heights, reach more people than ever, and make the world a better place.

Share this project: