Free rice game gets social boost

Bowl of rice at food distribution point in Pakistan The WFP says the effort is a testament to the power of the web

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An online game reminiscent of quiz show Call My Bluff is getting a facelift in order to provide rice to the hungry.

Launched in 2007, Freerice.com challenges people to find the correct meaning of a word from four alternatives.

For every correct answer given, 10 grains of rice are donated to countries such as Uganda and Bangladesh.

Already attracting 40,000 players every day, the site is now aiming to integrate with Facebook and Twitter.

A mobile phone app will also be available for iPhone and iPad users, and the site is extending its challenges so that users can also test their knowledge of other subjects, such as art, geography, chemistry and maths.

The site is the brainchild of computer programmer John Breen, who originally designed it to help his teenage sons prepare for their college entrance exams.

Realising the game's potential to help, he donated it to the World Food Programme (WFP).

Within a month of its launch, it had raised enough rice to feed over 50,000 people for a day. To date it has raised enough rice to feed more than four million people for a day.

The rice is provided by the WFP and paid for by advertisers.

Every time a person gets a correct answer the advertisement running at the bottom of the site changes and the advertiser pays for ten grains of rice.

Integrating the site with Facebook and Twitter is something hardcore players have been requesting for a long time, said Nancy Roman, director of communication for the World Food Programme.

"Freerice is making internet history," said Ms Roman. "It's a stellar example of how a fun and simple idea can harness the internet's potential to contribute to the world's most pressing global issue - hunger."

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