From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search logo.svg
Motto What will you change?
Formation February 7, 2007; 8 years ago (2007-02-07)
Headquarters Delaware, USA
Ben Rattray
Jennifer Dulski
300 (as of December 2015)
Website is a petition website operated by, Inc., an American certified B Corporation[1] incorporated in Delaware that provides a freemium petition tool for more than 100 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]'s stated mission is to "empower people everywhere to create the change they want to see."[4] Popular topics of petitions are economic and criminal justice, human rights, education, environmental protection, animals rights, health, and sustainable food.

History[edit] 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

In 2011, 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 was a proposal to merge the Spanish-speaking counterpart website Actuable into It took place in 2012 when they approved the voluntary union of Actuable users into the platform.[12][13]

In 2012, Arizona State University decided to block access to in response to a petition created by student Eric Haywood protesting "rising tuition costs at the school". University officials claimed that " 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 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 would launch a UK-specific platform for petitions, placing 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 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]

Notable 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 The petition received over 2.2 million signatures – at that time the largest number of signatures for any campaign in'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 said he was acting in self-defense, and was set free without being charged. 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 "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 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, 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, someone calling himself 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 he was briefly killed off in the Season 12 episode "Life Of Brian". Thompson's petition gained 30,000 signatures within 36 hours.[25][26] The character was brought back to the show a few episodes later.[27]

In September 2014, Karol Wilcox of Hayti, Missouri started a petition against the planned execution of Beau, a two-and-a-half-year-old dog in Dyersburg, Tennessee, for allegedly killing a duck on his owner's property. By November, this petition had gained over 540,000 signatures.[28]

In the United Kingdom[edit]

On 10 March 2015, the political blogger Guido Fawkes, whose real name is Paul Staines, started a petition[29] to reinstate Jeremy Clarkson, BBC co-host of Top Gear. This followed the BBC's decision to suspend him over an alleged "fracas" involving a producer on the show. The petition gained over 500,000 signatures within 24 hours, making it the fastest growing petition to date for the site. It had gained over 1,000,000 signatures by 20 March 2015. The servers at in the UK regularly became unresponsive due to the high demand.

In Canada[edit]

In August 2014, Erica Perry from Vancouver, Canada started a petition asking Centerplate, a large food and beverage corporation serving entertainment venues in North America and the UK, to fire its then-CEO Desmond "Des" Hague after the public release of security camera footage allegedly showing Hague abusing a young doberman pinscher in an elevator.[30] In response to Centerplate not taking action after the incident other than releasing a statement of apology from Hague, and an agreement by Hague to commit to perform certain charitable acts, the petition called for Centerplate to fire Des Hague. On September 2, 2014, after the petition had received over 190,000 signatures, Des Hague was removed from his position as CEO of Centerplate.[31]

In Germany[edit]

In 2012, Philip Matesanz, a 21-year-old German university student, started a petition to allow third-party recording tools for YouTube. The petition garnered more than 4.3 million signatures.[32] As of 2015, this is the largest number of signatures in the history of[citation needed]

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]

In the Philippines[edit]

The petition to have death row convict Mary Jane Veloso released was the fastest ever growing petition from the Philippines with over 250,000 signatories from over 125 countries.[33][34]

Business model[edit]

The website makes revenue by running advertisements called sponsored campaigns for advocacy organizations such as Amnesty International[35] and list-building services to partner organizations.[36] 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. intends to limit donations to one per person, per petition.[37]


Visibility of personal information[edit]

Under certain conditions,[38][vague] signatures and other private information including email addresses can be found by search engines. operates a system for signature hiding, which works only if the user has an account on,[39] but it does not work if the signature was forged.[citation needed]

Corporate structure[edit]

There has been debate and criticism[40][41] around the fact that 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". is being deliberately deceitful through the use of the name. I'd suspect that the average user does not know that is a for-profit corporation, and that the corporation plans on using the contact information being provided to them to earn revenue. 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.” [42]

Advertising policy[edit]

In 2012, the site dropped most of the restrictions it previously placed on paid content. Internal documents began referring to "clients" and "partners" as "advertisers" and stated that "only advertisers strictly identified as 'hate groups' are to be barred."[43][44] As a result, was accused of encouraging astroturfing and abandoning the progressive user base from which it initially gained traction. Additional controversy arose when the employee who initially leaked the documents was fired.[44] Of the users who lost interest in the site after this change, a number of them expressed difficulty in being removed from mailing lists.[43]

Selling of personal data[edit] 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.[41]

Use for trending topics[edit]

Topics for petitions have grown to include disagreement with the Academy Awards and removing milk from certain types of coffee.[45][46] The authors of these petitions have been criticized for focusing on first world problems. Further debate over the content of petitions came in November 2014 when Martin Daubney called some of them "bizarre" and stated that the site was being used to promote censorship.[47] In response, the communication director John Coventry defended the wide range of petitions, saying that "people make an informed choice in what they want to support."[48] The following week saw criticism alleging that petitions about the media receive more attention than petitions about "saving 'actual' lives."[49]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ " B Corp listing". 
  2. ^ "Change.Org Social Platform Hits 100 Million Users". Retrieved 23 June 2015. 
  3. ^ Alter, Jonthan. "For, a Better World Is Clicks Away". Bloomberg. 
  4. ^ Farr, Christina (17 May 2013). " 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, Wants To Prove Socially-Minded Startups Can Attract Big Numbers". TechCrunch. Retrieved 1 July 2013. 
  9. ^ Stirland, Sarah Lai (November 25, 2008). " 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 Platform in Reaction to Ai Weiwei Campaign". 
  12. ^ Actuable se fusiona con y crean la mayor plataforma de ciberactivismo online, Público (España), 21/9/2011
  13. ^ 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". The Huffington Post. 
  15. ^ Lardinois, Frederic (April 5, 2012). " 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 comes to UK". The Guardian (London). 
  17. ^ Kelion, Leo (May 14, 2012). " 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". 
  20. ^ "Tell Bank of America: No $5 Debit Card Fees". 
  21. ^ "'Universal Pictures: Let the Lorax Speak for the Trees!'". 
  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. ^ "Change the Youtube comment section back to its original form". Reddit. 2013. Retrieved 2015-09-30. 
  25. ^ Westbrook, Caroline (2013-11-26). "Irate Family Guy fans strike up online petition to bring major character back to life". 
  26. ^ Duncan, Amy (2013-11-27). "Disgruntled Family Guy fans’ petition to bring major character back to life tops 80,000 signatures". 
  27. ^ Lee, Ann (2013-12-16). "Brian Griffin back from the dead on Family Guy after Stewie comes to the rescue". 
  28. ^ Crockett, Ashley; Suriani, Mike (2015-01-30). "Beau the dog and owner reunited". WREG. Retrieved 2015-09-30. 
  29. ^ Smith-Spark, Larua; Tomkins, Rosie (2015-03-22). "Fan hands BBC petition urging 'Top Gear' host's reinstatement". CNN. Retrieved 2015-09-30. 
  30. ^ Hanson, Hilary (August 27, 2014). "Des Hague, Multimillionaire CEO, Caught On Tape Kicking Puppy". The Huffington Post. 
  31. ^ Talmazan, Yuliya (September 2, 2014). "Centerplate CEO Des Hague resigns over dog abuse video". Global News. 
  32. ^ "@Youtube & @GoogleDE : Allow third party recording tools for YouTube #FreedomOnYoutube". 
  33. ^ petition for her release.
  34. ^ "#SaveMaryJane among most signed petitions". Rappler. 
  35. ^ Mui, Ylan M (January 24, 2012). " Emerges as Influential Advocate on Issues from Bullying to Bank Fees". The Washington Post. 
  36. ^ Martin, Courtney E. (November 2, 2011). "'You Are the NOW of Now!' The Future of (Online) Feminism". The Nation. 
  37. ^ Fung, Brian (May 1, 2013). "You (Yes, You!) Can Now Pay to Promote Your Petitions". National Journal Group Inc. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  38. ^ "Privacy Policy |". Retrieved March 19, 2012. 
  39. ^ "I want my name off of this petition immediately! : The Help Desk". Retrieved March 19, 2012. 
  40. ^ Rathke, Wade (June 20, 2012). "Is about Real Change or Just Pocket Change?". Chief Organizer Blog. Retrieved July 10, 2012. 
  41. ^ a b c "Change Dot Biz". The Information Diet. February 28, 2012. Retrieved July 6, 2012. 
  42. ^ Klint, Finley (26 September 2013). "Meet, the Google of Modern Politics". Wired Magazine. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  43. ^ a b Brooks, Raven (2012-10-23). " sells out progressive movement". Daily Kos. Retrieved 2015-09-30. 
  44. ^ a b "Why I Will Not Sign Another Petition Ever". Crooks and Liars. 2012-10-24. Retrieved 2015-09-30. 
  45. ^ Harris, Jenn (2013-09-12). "First world problem: Vegans want Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Lattes too". LA Times. Retrieved 2014-12-04. 
  46. ^ Radolf, Becky (2014-03-07). "The 7 Dumbest Petitions Ever Created". Tradical. Retrieved 2014-12-04. 
  47. ^ Daubney, Martin (2014-11-14). "Is just a weapon of censorship?". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2014-12-04. 
  48. ^ Coventry, John (2014-11-14). "It's wrong to accuse of promoting censorship". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2014-12-04. 
  49. ^ Nicholson, Ewan (2014-11-20). "How can a petition to get a misogynistic pick-up artist refused entry to the UK get 158,000 signatures and our petition to stop the Home Office just leaving people to drown gets 3000? Go figure.". Things That Matter. Retrieved 2014-12-04. 

External links[edit]