Internal · Rehumanize

Can a Chrome plugin transform the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis?

It’s not often that a single moment (let alone a single image) captures the world’s attention, but it had been more than a day since the photo of Aylan Kurdi* was released and much of the world was still in shock. In that one image, the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis was no longer abstract, but a reality.

In Aylan, we were reminded of the human cost of the crisis.

At the same time we saw news reports and media comments that gave any number of labels to Aylan and his compatriots. No one could agree if this were a refugee crisis or a migrant crisis and, worse still, in Australia derogatory descriptors like ‘boat-people’ and ‘queue-jumpers’ continued to be used. While it was already late Friday afternoon, we were struck by a question:

What if we could bring humanity back to each and every news report and press release?

Three hours later we had some core messaging, a visual style and a working Google Chrome extension, all of which came to form Rehumanize, the Chrome extension for humanity. (You can read about that whirlwind process here). It had a simple premise, but it was one that could transform your relationship with the media you consumed:

Using an automatic find & replace, the extension shed light on the disconnect between the international discourse and the universal nature of the crisis, making for headlines that were alternately saddening, profound and absurd. These are a few of our favourites gathered from around the world:



By 8pm that night the plugin was live and the press release sent. Not exactly prime-time for coverage, but there was no way we were waiting until Monday. And the responses came quickly. First from Sydney, then across the country, then around the world.

We were humbled by the response, and it was great to see many tweeting their own before/after screenshots along with their thoughts on how we engage with the crisis.

Rehumanize reminded thousands that the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis isn’t about ‘migrants’ or ‘refugees’ but simply people, just like us.

Articles in Campaign Brief, BustleThe Drum, Mashable, Quartz, Wired.

*Note: we decided to use the name ‘Aylan Kurdi’ as it’s the one most commonly used by the media and the public, but we’d also like to recognize what has been reported to be Aylan’s original name, Alan Shenu. For further information on his tragic death (including broader reactions) you can read more on Wikipedia here. (Warning: graphic content).

You can read more about our whirlwind development here.