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Lady Gaga goes offline for charity

by Mesfin Fekadu

The Associated Press

Alicia Keys and Lady Gaga take charity work seriously, and they’re going offline to prove it.

Gaga, Justin Timberlake, Usher and other celebrities have joined a new campaign called Digital Life Sacrifice on behalf of Keys’ charity, Keep a Child Alive. The entertainers plan to sign off from social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter on Wednesday, which is World AIDS Day. The participants will sign back on when the charity raises $1 million.

For the campaign, celebrities have filmed “last tweet and testament” videos and will appear in ads showing them lying in coffins to represent what the campaign calls their digital deaths.

“It’s so important to shock you to the point of waking up,” Keys said in a phone interview from New York last week.

“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.”

The campaign, she said, puts the disease in perspective.

“This is such a direct and instantly emotional way . . . to get people to pay attention,” said Keys, who has more than 2.6 million followers on Twitter.

The foundation, which began in 2003, will accept donations through text messages and bar-code technology, which is featured in the charity’s Buy Life campaign. Money raised will support families affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa and India.

“We’re trying to sort of make the remark: Why do we care so much about the death of one celebrity as opposed to millions and millions of people dying in the place that we’re all from?” said Leigh Blake, the president and co-founder of Keep a Child Alive.

“I have a feeling that Gaga is going to raise it all by herself,” Blake said. Lady Gaga has more than 7.2 million followers on Twitter, and nearly 24 million fans on Facebook.

Keys is hoping more people — both famous folks and non-celebs — get involved once the new initiative launches: “It just doesn’t have to be just because you’re a celebrity or something like that. It can be anybody.”