Change.org

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Change.org
Change.org Logo.png
Motto What will you change?
Formation February 7, 2007; 7 years ago (2007-02-07)
Headquarters United States
Founder and CEO Ben Rattray
President and COO Jennifer Dulski
Staff 170 (as of October 2013)
Website change.org

Change.org is a website operated by Change.org, Inc., an American certified B Corporation[1] incorporated in Delaware that provides a free petition tool for 65 million users[2] and hosts sponsored campaigns for organizations.

Nonprofits and political campaigns, including Amnesty International and the Humane Society, pay the site to host their petitions.[3] Change.org's stated mission is to "empower people everywhere to create the change they want to see."[4] Popular topics of Change.org petitions are economic and criminal justice, human rights, education, the environment, animals, health, and sustainable food.

History[edit]

Change.org was launched on February 7, 2007,[5] by current chief executive Ben Rattray, with the support of founding chief technology officer Mark Dimas, Darren Haas,[6] and Adam Cheyer.[6] As of February 2012, the site had 100 employees with offices on four continents. By the end of 2012, Rattray stated "he plans to have offices in 20 countries and to operate in several more languages, including Arabic and Chinese."[7] In May 2013, the company announced a $15 million round of investment led by Omidyar Network and said it has 170 staff members in 18 countries.[8]

In 2008, the organization partnered with MySpace to create an index of crowdsourced ideas for implementation by the incoming presidency of Barack Obama,[9] drawing comparisons to similar approaches by change.gov.

In 2011, Change.org claimed it was the subject of a distributed denial of service attack by "Chinese hackers",[10] and that the alleged attack was apparently related to its petition to the Chinese government to release artist Ai Weiwei.[11]

In 2011, there is a proposal about merging the Spanish-speaking counterpart website Actuable into Change.org. Finally it that took place in 2012 when they approved the voluntary union of Actuable users into the Change.org platform.[12][13]

In 2012, Arizona State University decided to block access to Change.org in response to a petition created by student Eric Haywood protesting "rising tuition costs at the school". University officials claimed that "Change.org is a spam site" and the blocking was conducted "to protect the use of our limited and valuable network resources for legitimate academic, research, and administrative uses".[14]

In response, Internet Campaign Director Josh Levy of the Free Press, stated that "disabling access to any lawful site violates the spirit and principles of Net Neutrality, chills academic freedom, and possibly rises to the level of a First Amendment violation."[14]

It was reported on April 5, 2012, that Change.org hit 10 million members, and was the fastest-growing social action platform on the web. At that time, they were receiving 500 new petitions per day.[15]

On May 13, 2012, The Guardian, BBC News and other sources reported that Change.org would launch a UK-specific platform for petitions, placing Change.org in competition with 38 Degrees,[16][17] a British not-for-profit political-activism organization.

In January 2013, Jennifer Dulski joined the company as president and COO.

An August 2013 Fast Company article reported that Change.org would soon begin featuring petition recipients, saying, "For the first time, companies will be able to post a public response to any given petition (currently, they can only respond to the person who started the campaign). They will also be able to create their own Decision Maker page, which will show all petitions against them, the number of signatures gathered, and their statuses." [18]

Petitions[edit]

In the United States[edit]

On March 8, 2012, a petition entitled "Prosecute the killer of our son, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin" was posted on Change.org. The petition received over 2.2 million signatures – at that time the largest number of signatures for any campaign in Change.org's history.[19] The petition called for the prosecution of George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, who, on February 26, 2012, shot and killed Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, a suburb of Orlando. Zimmerman, armed with a 9 mm gun, said he was acting in self-defense against the unarmed teenager, and he was set free the night of the killing without being charged. Social media technology (including Change.org's petition) played a pivotal role in spreading awareness about the killing. On April 11, 2012, Zimmerman was arrested and charged with second-degree murder. He stood trial in the months of June and July and was acquitted of all charges on July 13, 2013.

On October 1, 2011, Molly Katchpole, a "22 year old nanny with two jobs" in Washington D.C., started a petition on Change.org "asking Bank of America and their CEO Bryan Moynihan to drop its unexpected new $5/month banking fee" for debit card customers. Less than one month later, 300,000 signatures were collected. The petition was widely cited as a contributing cause for the bank formally announcing to drop the new banking fee. U.S. President Barack Obama signed the petition; U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, the Democratic senator from Illinois, responded to Bank of America and the petition on Twitter. It may have contributed to the U.S. Congress deciding to "look at legislation for out-of-control banking fees".[20]

In December 2011, a fourth-grade class in Brookline, Massachusetts, launched the "Lorax Petition Project" through Change.org requesting Universal Studios to include more of an environmental message on its website and trailer for its upcoming film, The Lorax, a classic Dr. Seuss children's story. The website and trailer lacked the important message from the book, "to help the environment".[21] The petition collected over 57,000 signatures (including Edward Norton's), and on January 26, 2012, the studio updated the website "with the environmental message the kids had requested".[22]

On the morning of February 2, 2012, Stef Gray, a 23-year-old graduate in New York, held a news conference at the Washington offices of Sallie Mae where she presented the results of her Change.org, Sallie Mae, the "nation's largest private student-loan provider" petition which had received about 77,000 signers. That afternoon the company changed its forbearance fee policy.[23]

In November 2013, John Doe of Arlington, Texas launched a petition against changes made to the YouTube commenting system by Google. The changes force YouTube users to create an account on Google+ and also removes the "reply" mechanism on comments unless they were posted on Google+. This petition received over 100,000 signatures in less than a week, and over 200,000 within two weeks.[24]

In November 2013, Aaron Thompson from Tuscaloosa, Alabama started a petition, directed at Seth MacFarlane to bring back Brian Griffin on Family Guy, after his death in Season 12 episode "Life Of Brian", he stated that "He added a witty and sophisticated element to the show," petition creator Aaron Thompson wrote. "Family Guy and Fox Broadcasting will lose viewers if Brian Griffin is not brought back to the show... they killed off the dog who has lived in our homes for the last 15 years. They killed the dog we all have come to love. They killed America's dog!" Thompson's petition gained 30,000 signatures within 36 hours and is still causing controversy today.[25]

In Germany[edit]

Also in 2012, Philip Matesanz, a 21-year-old German university student, started a petition to allow third-party recording tools for YouTube. To date,[when?] this petition has garnered approximately 4.3 million signatures, which is now the largest number of signatures in the history of Change.org.[26]

In Spain[edit]

In February 2013, over one million people, a figure equivalent to around two percent of the total population of Spain, had signed the petition calling for the entire Spanish government to resign. The call was motivated by an unprecedented corruption scandal involving the majority of key leaders of the People's Party, including the Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy himself.[citation needed]

Business model[edit]

The website makes revenue by running advertisements called sponsored campaigns for advocacy organizations such as Amnesty International[27] and list-building services to partner organizations.[28] In May 2013 the website started “crowd-promoted petitions” that allows a signatory to promote the petition by paying a donation of $5 to $1000 at the final stage of petition signing. For each dollar spent the current petition is linked as a related item to 5 other people who have just signed a petition. Change.org intends to limit donations to one per person, per petition.[29]

Criticism[edit]

Under certain conditions,[30] signatures and other private information including email addresses can be found by search engines. Change.org operates a system for signature hiding, which works only if the user has an account on Change.org, but[31] it does not work if the signature was forged or appears on another site operated by Change.org, PetitionOnline.

There has been debate and criticism[32][33] around the fact that Change.org is a for-profit business despite using the .org domain suffix rather than the commercial .com. The site has been accused of fooling its users and hiding the fact that it is "a for-profit entity that has an economic incentive to get people to sign petitions".

Change.org is being deliberately deceitful through the use of the change.org name. I'd suspect that the average change.org user does not know that Change.org is a for-profit corporation, and that the corporation plans on using the contact information being provided to them to earn revenue.

Change.org spokesperson Charlotte Hill countered this criticism in a September 2013 article in Wired Magazine, saying, "We are a mission-driven social enterprise, and while we bring in revenue, we reinvest 100% of that revenue back into our mission of empowering ordinary people. It’s not just that we’re not yet making a profit – it’s that we are decidedly not for-profit.” [34]

Change.org has also been accused of selling the personal data provided by the users to third-party companies that hire its services, gaining money at the expense of the users.[33]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Change.org B Corp listing". 
  2. ^ Newman, Kira. "How Change.org Is Changing the World [INTERVIEW]". TECHCocktail San Francisco. Retrieved 31 March 2014. 
  3. ^ Alter, Jonthan. "For Change.org, a Better World Is Clicks Away". Bloomberg. 
  4. ^ Farr, Christina (17 May 2013). "Change.org CEO shows how online petitions change the face of health care (Q&A)". VentureBeat. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  5. ^ Gonzalez, Nick (February 7, 2007). "Social Networking For Change(.org)". TechCrunch. 
  6. ^ a b Veneziani, Vince (February 7, 2007). "Social Networking For Change(.org)". TechCrunch. Retrieved December 10, 2011. 
  7. ^ Kristof, Nicholas (February 4, 2012). "'After Recess - Change the World'". The New York Times. 
  8. ^ Empson, Rick (21 May 2013). "With $15M From Omidyar And 35M+ Users, Change.org Wants To Prove Socially-Minded Startups Can Attract Big Numbers". TechCrunch. Retrieved 1 July 2013. 
  9. ^ Stirland, Sarah Lai (November 25, 2008). "Change.org Crowdsources An Agenda For Incoming Administration". Wired. 
  10. ^ Branigan, Tania (April 20, 2011). "Ai Weiwei campaign website 'victim of Chinese hackers'". The Guardian (London). 
  11. ^ Joffe-Walt, Benjamin. "Chinese Hackers Attack Change.org Platform in Reaction to Ai Weiwei Campaign". Change.org. 
  12. ^ Actuable se fusiona con Change.org y crean la mayor plataforma de ciberactivismo online, Público (España), 21/9/2011
  13. ^ Change.org adquiere la española Actuable. La plataforma de ciberactivismo de Estados Unidos compra Actuable por una cantidad simbólica, El País, 20/9/2011
  14. ^ a b Levy, Josh (February 3, 2012). "Arizona State Censors Change.org". The Huffington Post. 
  15. ^ Lardinois, Frederic (April 5, 2012). "Change.org Hits 10 Million Members, Now The 'Fastest-Growing Social Action Platform On The Web'". TechCrunch.
  16. ^ Topping, Alexandra (May 13, 2012). "Trayvon Martin petition site Change.org comes to UK". The Guardian (London). 
  17. ^ Kelion, Leo (May 14, 2012). "Change.org petition site targets UK campaigners". BBC News. 
  18. ^ Bluestein, Adam (5 August 2013). "HOW BEN RATTRAY'S CHANGE.ORG BECAME A VIRAL CONSUMER WATCHDOG". Fast Company. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  19. ^ "Prosecute the killer of our son, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin". Change.org. 
  20. ^ "Tell Bank of America: No $5 Debit Card Fees". Change.org. 
  21. ^ "'Universal Pictures: Let the Lorax Speak for the Trees!'". Change.org. 
  22. ^ Kristof, Nicholas (February 4, 2012). "After Recess - Change the World". The New York Times. 
  23. ^ Lewin, Tamar (February 2, 2012). "Sallie Mae to Change Forebearance Fee Policy". The New York Times. 
  24. ^ https://www.change.org/petitions/google-change-the-youtube-comment-section-back-to-its-original-form#%7Cpublisher= Change.Org
  25. ^ http://www.change.org/petitions/seth-macfarlane-and-fox-broadcasting-company-bring-brian-griffin-back-to-family-guy
  26. ^ "@Youtube & @GoogleDE : Allow third party recording tools for YouTube #FreedomOnYoutube". change.org. 
  27. ^ Mui, Ylan M (January 24, 2012). "Change.org Emerges as Influential Advocate on Issues from Bullying to Bank Fees". The Washington Post. 
  28. ^ Martin, Courtney E. (November 2, 2011). "'You Are the NOW of Now!' The Future of (Online) Feminism". The Nation. 
  29. ^ Fung, Brian (2013 may 1). "You (Yes, You!) Can Now Pay to Promote Your Change.org Petitions". NationalJournal.com. National Journal Group Inc. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  30. ^ "Privacy Policy | Change.org". Change.org. Retrieved March 19, 2012. 
  31. ^ "I want my name off of this petition immediately! : The Change.org Help Desk". Change.org. Retrieved March 19, 2012. 
  32. ^ Rathke, Wade (June 20, 2012). "Is Change.org about Real Change or Just Pocket Change?". Chief Organizer Blog. Retrieved July 10, 2012. 
  33. ^ a b c "Change Dot Biz". The Information Diet. February 28, 2012. Retrieved July 6, 2012. 
  34. ^ Klint, Finley (26 September 2013). "Meet Change.org, the Google of Modern Politics". Wired Magazine. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 

External links[edit]