Amara , DifferenceMakers

2 male students from the AMARA team holding an award pose with Brian Rist and Holly Lalos of Difference Makers against a blue UMass Lowell backdrop.

Amara is seeking to solve the problem around social media and the mental health crisis.

2022 Rist Campus-Wide DifferenceMaker (Sponsored by Kim and Brian Rist ’77, Manning School of Business)

Brandon Conceicao spoke of his many disappointments with current social media platforms during his pitch at the 2022 Rist DifferenceMaker $50k Idea Challenge. When he and Adam Iskandar, a Senior Biology student here at the university took to the stage, their intentions were to spread awareness about the dangers of the inhumane algorithms used to create addictive experiences for users. Today’s social media aims to keep their users scrolling through content that is divisive and engaging, without any regard for whether it damages their mental health. Conceicao touched on one of his many concerns involving his younger sister, and her body dysmorphia issues at such a young age because of the comparisons made to influencers and other filtered models on the platforms she was a part of. Fed up with the current state of mental health and damaging effects of these problems, Conceicao and Iskandar decided on a solution.

Enter Amara, a next generation social media platform which uses humane algorithms, data transparency and a moral business model to fight the rise in mental health issues among youth. Social media should be a place to keep up to date with what is going on in your friends' lives, share content and creations you have designed and get in contact with people you once knew, and this is the exact point of the platform. Amara also diversifies its business model to create alternative revenue streams, so they do not have to rely on selling user data to make a profit. They currently have a prototype of the platform available, and after winning the Rist Campus-Wide DifferenceMaker Prize (sponsored by Kim and Brian Rist ’77, Manning School of Business) of $6,000 at the 2022 $50k Idea Challenge, they plan to invest in the future of the platform. With the funding they gained from DifferenceMaker, Brandon and Adam plan to initially add more beta users to their platform through advanced testing as well as cover legal fees for keeping their business in good standing.