At ironSource, our employees work on impactful projects inside and outside of the office. We sat down with our own Perry Shalom, SDK Developer at Supersonic, to learn more about his award-winning Butterfly Button, a feature for any app or web page that connects users with domestic violence experts and welfare services to help them escape domestic violence. The Butterfly Button won first place out of 157 ideas at the Michal Sela Safe@Home hackathon, an event founded to encourage developers to build advanced technologies that can be used in times of crisis. Read on to learn more about the origin story of the Butterfly Button, its far-reaching social impact, and Perry’s vision for the future of the Butterfly.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into SDK development?
I started in hi-tech 11 years ago as a full stack developer, which is unrelated to mobile development. I had the opportunity to get into mobile a year later, when I was still a student.
While graduating with a degree in software engineering, I worked at NICE, where the main product was an SDK. It was my first step as a developer in the mobile development world, and it’s where I fell in love with SDKs. In that role and in my later jobs, I was lucky to work with iOS and Android platforms in parallel, which allowed me to learn both very well.
In addition to developing SDKs, I have a passion for teaching others. I started a company with my friends where I guided other employees, and I used to teach in the evenings at Afeka College. At ironSource, I’m able to share my knowledge with my teammates and learn new things from them as well.
What is the Butterfly Button?
The Butterfly Button is an SDK that can be easily integrated into any app or website and serve as an escape button for anyone in danger of domestic violence. When users click on the Butterfly, they enter a digital safe-zone where they can share what they’re going through and get help. The main feature the Butterfly offers is connection with experts. The user answers three questions, and the Butterfly sends their responses directly to welfare organizations so an expert can reach out. There is also a self-quiz so users can determine if they are in a dangerous relationship.
All of the activity in the zone is kept private and discreet, and it won’t show in browser history. While it’s not a place to call during emergencies, the Butterfly can be a powerful tool in helping victims plan to protect themselves and get out of potentially dangerous situations.
What sparked the idea of the Butterfly Button? What does the project mean to you?
In 2020, I watched an episode of Uvda about Michal Sela, a victim of domestic violence who was killed by her husband. Afterward, her sister, Lili, founded the Michal Sela forum to help other women in similar situations, and created a hackathon called Safe@Home.
Addressing domestic violence and protecting personal safety are topics that are very important to me, as a person who grew up in a violent environment. I was touched by Michal’s story and I knew I wanted to do something to help people in these situations.
I had a small child at the time and the Butterfly was too big of a project to undertake alone, so I presented the idea to a student of mine, Aviel Ben Shalom. I served as his advisor while he developed it as his final project at Afeka College of Engineering.
In 2021, after I published the beta version of the SDK, I approached Netanel Amar, an old friend of mine. He immediately believed in the concept, and together we worked around the clock to publish a production-ready product. A year later, we entered the idea into the 3rd Safe@Home hackathon, where we won 1st place.
During the hackathon we planned the next level of the Butterfly Button. Among many abilities that will make the Butterfly a game changer in its domain, we started to develop an anonymous, live chat option that connects users to domestic violence experts in the moment.
Congratulations on winning first place! Has anything changed for you and the Butterfly Button since the hackathon? Where do you see the project going in the future, and what impact do you hope it will have?
Thanks to the hackathon, we were able to brainstorm new ideas and form a small team of volunteers to work on it. One of the obstacles we faced before publishing was finding domestic violence experts to work with. I’m happy to share that we are fully functional with the connection with the “No 2 Violence” organization, who chose to collaborate with us in Israel.
Looking forward, I hope to see the Butterfly Button widely integrated in apps around the world. We are trying to connect to more local organizations so that we can refer users to resources that are accessible to them no matter where they are. We’ve just added Arabic to the list of available languages (the feature can also recognize Hebrew and English), and soon Russian as well to reach a wider audience.
When we’re talking about impact, I say that sometimes you can save a life without realizing it. I hope the project impacts people’s lives by empowering them to seek help if they need it. I may never know that I saved someone, but I will be happy to know if I did in some way. I also hope that as the Butterfly Button continues to expand, its presence will deter predators and encourage them to think twice before hurting others. In this way, the Butterfly Button may help people by preventing domestic violence in the first place.