A Tonbridge businessman has found himself in the global media spotlight after making a plea to Facebook’s creator Mark Zuckerberg not to force him to change the name of his app, which helps keeps Britain tidy.
Danny Lucas developed Littergram, a social media app which identifies litter hot spots by getting users to send photos of problem locations, with the aim of keeping Britain tidy.
It has gained a phenomenal following from the public and the system’s potential was recognised by Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council, which became the first local authority in the country to sign up as a partner.
Yet despite his good intentions, Facebook claims the name Littergram is too close in title to Instagram, the photo sharing application it bought for £629 million in 2012.
The company has now demanded the name Littergram is phased out over the coming months.
In response, the app’s developer Mr Lucas, who himself is from Tonbridge, recorded a video appeal to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg asking him not to take legal action against his environmental campaign.
He has yet to get a response.
Mr Lucas, 48, said: “We have been doing so well with Littergram, and I just never imagined that Facebook would have a problem with us. I thought our name just represented a means of sending reports on litter.”
Mr Lucas, who works for a construction company in Wrotham, explained the inspiration for his app naming and shaming problem litter spots came directly from identifying how waste within his own industry could be disposed of in a more environmentally friendly manner.
He added: “There has just been a huge response to this and I’ve appeared on CNN news in America. Plus, news organisations from Nigeria to Australia have been contacting me. I’ve also been asked to appear on the BBC’s One Show, which has all fuelled our great momentum. There has been a lot of hard work on this, which would be undone if we had to change our name. We’ve been working with schools on this and everyone knows us as Littergram now.
“We have been very concerned, as we don’t have the money to fight a legal case. We’re just trying to help save the UK from a litter crisis that costs around £1 billion to deal with, which has meant we are now the third worst country in the world on this issue.”
Mr Lucas revealed he had been served notice by Facebook to make changes to the disputed app name, but he is still hopeful the internet giant will see common sense.
He is urging people to pledge their support by posting at: #savelittergram on Twitter.
A spokesperson for Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council said that since February, it has received more than 150 reports of littering, and confirmed that it plans to continue using the app as part of its litter-picking operations.