The original plan was for artists such as Usher, Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, Jennifer Hudson and Ryan Seacrest to stage their "digital deaths" until $1 million was raised for Alicia Keys' BuyLife.org charity effort. The campaign kicked off in coordination with Wednesday's World AIDS Day and included the social-media-savvy stars staging a Digital Life Sacrifice by signing off their Facebook, Twitter and other online communication sites until the fund-raising goal was reached.
According to a ticker on the BuyLife.org site, as of Friday (December 3) at noon, more than $183,493 had been raised in the effort to buy back the stars' online presence.
Kardashian was among the participants who posed for posters bringing attention to the effort. In hers, she lies in a casket while wearing a cocktail dress and clutching her cell phone. Celebrities such as mega-tweeter Seacrest agreed to sign off all social networks on Tuesday, and as of Friday, he was staying true to his pledge. The top tweet on Seacrest's site read, "Ryan Seacrest would love to chat but he's dead. Buy back his life & fight HIV/AIDS."
A spokesperson for the campaign could not be reached at press time to give an update on what the plan is should the $1 million goal not be reached. With the target figure still on the distant horizon, it appeared that it could take some time to rack up the $1 million and it's unclear how long the stars — many of whom use social media daily to communicate with fans and break news — are committed to staying digitally deceased.
But even before he digitally died, Seacrest was already sweating his ability to unplug. "One hour until I sign off Twitter," he wrote Tuesday night. "I'm not gonna like not being connected with u guys! Argh ... how do I manage Twitter withdrawals??"
At press time, Gaga's Twitter page was also stalled out with multiple pleas posted Wednesday to donate to the charity.
The beneficiary of the campaign, Keys' Keep a Child Alive, helps provide money for medical care and support services for children and families impacted by HIV and AIDS in Africa and India.
Janelle Monáe and Keys' husband, producer Swizz Beatz, are among the other stars who are participating in the stunt, along with the cast of MTV's "The Buried Life," Elijah Wood, Jay Sean, Khloé Kardashian and photographer David LaChapelle.
"It's so important to shock you to the point of waking up," Keys told The Associated Press. "It's not that people don't care or it's not that people don't want to do something, it's that they never thought of it quite like that. ... This is such a direct and instantly emotional way and a little sarcastic, you know, of a way to get people to pay attention."
Keys founded Keep a Child Alive in 2003, and on September 30, she and co-founder Leigh Blake launched Buy Life. As part of the campaign, they've issued a $35 gray T-shirt with a barcode on it, and users who've uploaded the Stickybits or Wimo applications to their smartphones can donate $10 to the charity by scanning any Buy Life shirt with their devices.
"This Shirt Fights AIDS," reads the back of the shirt. "Scan the bar code or Text 'BUYLIFE' to 90999 to Join the Fight." It's unlikely that Gaga — who has 24 million Facebook fans — and the others will be digitally deceased for long, as between them the celebs have nearly 29 million followers just on Twitter.
Text the first name of the celebrity you are mourning to 90999, and $10 will instantly be donated to the cause.