The ubiquitous web petition. Chances are, you've recently clicked one. Maybe it was from your favorite nonprofit's email list or Facebook page, allowing you to take "action" in one second. Or perhaps you found it on the web's major petition site, Change.org. To click may seem like an innocent act, harmless and, perhaps, if more people sign, influential. But did you know that behind each click or "like" is a multimillion-dollar industry thriving on the commodification and monetization of those clicks? And despite the grand rhetoric to the contrary, clicktivism’s social impact is, thus far, uncertain.
Make no mistake, online petitions are a business too. In fact, the financial model of Change.org, which reportedly has revenue in the millions, mimics those of Silicon Valley startups. Offer something for free, then sell preferential access. "Sponsored" petitions are highlighted on the site, and what Change.org offers clients is its audience: some 75 million names, who are nudged, through emails, social media, and other methods, to sign those petitions.
With each click, Change.org makes a profit, and increases its clientele base. Clients are often organizations with deep pockets; Amnesty International, Sierra Club, and even the Democratic Party.
In the end, Change.org staff choose which petitions get featured—often, the ones that get clicks. We’re left to trust that their leadership, staff, and CEO will use the organization’s millions in revenue to, as a spokesperson said "empower users [beyond petitions], such as being able to contribute resources or money to a project, being able to contribute 'time' potentially through things like volunteering, and contribute their civic activity, such as voting."
The company would not release its financial reports, so there's no way of knowing how many (or how much) clients pay for sponsored petitions. It also would not release any specific data on how the company is investing in these forms of social impact, nor how much goes to management salaries, though Rattray has an estimated wealth of $2 million.
originally posted by: jude11
a reply to: CloudsTasteMetallic
Lots of exterior input but none of yours.