Change.org in 2017: Turning Petitions Into Movements
In 2017, our platform was the main digital space for civic organizing around the fight for Net Neutrality in partnership with dozens of other companies and organizations. Ultimately, more than 2.1 million people supported this effort on our platform, even as the FCC voted to repeal Net Neutrality. We believe our platform is best suited for others to leverage for social impact, so we generally don’t take a stand on matters of policy. But this was different — keeping our platform free and accessible to everyone who wants to make change in the world depends on an Internet that doesn’t have restrictions.
As that battle continues in 2018, we wanted to reflect on some of the other moments this year when citizens came to Change.org to leverage impact and influence.
Petitions to Movements
- When Heather Heyer was killed during white supremacist-incited chaos in Charlottesville, citizens came to Change.org to take action that led to Squarespace deciding to stop hosting sites that support white supremacists and to petitions and counterpetitions related to the toppling of Confederate monuments. Nearly 300,000 people also signed a petition asking that the driver of the vehicle that injured more than 30 and killed Heather face terrorism charges.
- More than 200,000 signed a petition to boycott the NFL if black quarterback Colin Kaepernick wasn’t signed by the start of the NFL season. His decision to take a knee in protest of police brutality made him the subject of President Trump’s ire and countercalls of NFL protests that played out in the national dialogue for much of the early season.
- A victory years in the making ended FIBA’s ban on allowing religious head covering in International basketball.
- Some 49,000 gay and bisexual men were posthumously pardoned for being imprisoned under the British Alan Turing Law.
- #MeToo: A Platform for Sexual Assault Survivors Around the World
- In France, violence against women now makes politicians ineligible for office
- In the U.S., Danielle Dick got the nation’s largest massage franchise, Massage Envy, to implement policies around how it investigates and reports sexual assaults at its franchises; In the UK, Kellen Phillips successfully campaigned to remove Harvey Weinstein from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; Tiana Lowe pressured her school, the University of Southern California, to refuse Harvey Weinstein’s $5 million endowment for women filmmakers & another student successfully made progress on an effort to have director Bryan Singer’s name removed from the school (Singer is accused of raping a 17-year-old) although her campaign will likely continue into 2018 since the school has indicated that his name has been temporarily been removed at Singer’s request.
- President Trump’s legislative agenda in his first 100 days inspired a swell of citizen engagement on our platform. More than a million signed a petition to remind Congress that they work for us and that they should be fair with healthcare, thousands marched throughout the country in Tax Marches and Americans continued to push back against threats of budget cuts to important programs like the National Endowment for the Humanities.
- We were the go to public forum for citizens to take swift international action to build the #FuerzaMexico movement after the Mexico City Earthquake that led to one of the fastest growing petitions in the history of our platform.
- In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, petition starters at Change.org got the U.S. government to send the USNS Comfort hospital ship to Puerto Rico and to influence a temporary lift of the Jones Act to allow the shipping of much needed supplies.
- In Australia, ‘gay panic’ was finally outlawed as an excuse for murder.
- In India, women won paid maternity leave and made progress on maternal health. (You can read more about the first-ever She Creates Change learning lab in Vice Impact here)
- In Spain, 1.2 million signed a victorious petition to ensure funding to research cancer at the University of Grenada.
- In Canada, a mother’s loss of her child because of a wrong prescription led to a country-wide policy change that could save lives and Pastor Lim, a humanitarian pastor who had been imprisoned in North Korea, was freed.
- The case of Alex Wuebbels made international headlines when she was unjustly arrested and the petition calling for justice for her was victorious with 624,000 signatures when the officer was fired.
- A stay of execution was granted for Marcellus Williams in the eleventh hour because of supporters who shared this petition on social media.
- Award-winning writer Dwayne Betts also attended Yale Law School and nearly wasn’t permitted to practice law in Connecticut because of a crime he committed when he was a teenager. A petition with more than 120,000 signatures helped the state reconsider an antiquated policy related to ex-felons and admitted Betts to the state bar.
- This year, efforts to end the Yulin Dog Meat festival progressed with the help of more than 2.7 million signatures.
- More than 813,000 signed a petition that pressured the Guggenheim to alter its “Art and China after 1989” exhibit that would original feature exhibits that were cruel to animals.
- A years-long campaign involving chimpanzees who had been used for animal tests was won in May when the New York Blood Center agreed to provide $6 million in funding to care for them. After Holiday Inn refused to allow some pets to stay with their displaced owners after Hurricane Harvey, one woman who was impacted was able to get the company, IHG, to change its policy on allowing pets during disaster relief.
- As seriously as people fight for and desperately want/need change, we also need balance in our lives. This is when we see moments of interesting spontaneity pop up on the platform — kind of like when people start to opine on their favorite movies (Star Wars, anyone?) or TV shows.
- This year, we had an opportunity to collaborate with the amazing and Emmy Award-winning cast of The Handmaid’s Tale, interview popular model and activist Alexandra Marzella about why she loves our platform and we saw a few interesting developments in the zeitgeist as international Sense 8 fans rallied for a true season finale. Perhaps needing to take a collective moment to just relax, there was a moment when the internet got very excited about replacing Kevin Spacey with Kevin James on House of Cards. Speaking of excitement, there is probably no sauce that has caused as much of a stir in the history of sauces like the limited edition McDonald’s Szechuan Sauce made popular by Rick and Morty (and Rick and Morty fans, for that matter.)
Thank you for being part of the global community of users who helped make an impact this year. We can’t wait to see what we impact in 2018.