We received an intriguing email the other day warning us about a hoax for the new iPhone 4CF, which is free of conflict minerals. Upon further investigation we were led to a website that brilliantly and flawlessly spoofed Apple’s site, introducing a “new” iPhone 4. As it turns out, this email didn’t come from Apple, but from the creators of the hoax itself. The fake site presented information on conflict minerals and instructions for exchanging your phone for a new “better world,” as well as encouragement to make a citizens arrest of heads of mining companies “that have been implicated in pillaging the resources of the Congo and fueling the conflict in the Congo over the past 14 years.”
We linked the photo of the nonexistent phone to the website – it was top-drawer activism and someone clearly put a great deal of work into it – but just two days later the site disappeared. (Luckily, religionandtechnology.com had the foresight to take screen shots of all the pages before the site went dark.) The iPhone 4CF and subsequent website is yet another gem from The Yes Men, who have now posted links to more information on Twitter. Along with their hijacking of the Chevron “We Agree” campaign, which has received more media attention than Chevron’s actual campaign, The Yes Men are very busy indeed. These guys deserve a Nobel Peace Prize for their tireless, breathtaking and hilarious work in all areas of activism. Recently we encountered a man sitting on a street corner shouting “If you want peace, fight for justice,” which could easily be a tenant of The Yes Men, and… We Agree.
Are we suggesting that you give up your iPhone or any of the other gadgets that contain conflict minerals? No. We are, after all, users of this technology ourselves – at least until we figure out how to transmit our weblog directly to your minds. We are simply passing on information that isn’t exactly at the forefront of everyone’s attention. As Nicholas D. Kristof says in his Op-Ed piece : “It’s not that American tech companies are responsible for the slaughter, or that eliminating conflict minerals from Americans’ phones will immediately end the war. Even the Enough Project, an anti-genocide organization that has been a leading force in the current campaign, estimates that only one-fifth of the world’s tantalum comes from Congo.” But awareness is a step toward solution. There simply has to be a better way. We should all know where the products that are a part of our everyday lives come from, what the impact is, and what it means to our future and our past.