Organizing 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 to leverage impact and influence.

Petitions to Movements

  • When Heather Heyer was killed during white supremacist-incited chaos in Charlottesville, citizens came to 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.



Political Accountability




Criminal Justice



  • 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.  

Popular Culture

  • 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.

Written by
Joshunda Sanders
December 19, 2017 6:34 pm