The online entity known as change.org is generally accepted as a wonderful progressive tool by which important issues can be appropriately addressed. The introductory page to the site states they are the “world platform for change” and “the go-to site for Web uprisings.” The Washington Post has stated: “Change.org has emerged as one of the most influential channels for activism in the country.”
But it’s important to ask what you’re adding your name to. What kind of activism?
You might be surprised to learn that a change.org petition can be used to harm individuals or businesses who have done nothing wrong. You might be surprised to learn that change.org has no criteria by which to determine whether or not a petition is based on truth. You might be even more surprised to learn that even though anyone can start a change.org petition, stopping one is just about impossible.
If you happen to be the target of a hate campaign and want change.org to remove a petition that alleges false information about you, you must first negotiate a lengthy series of forms.
Then wait four or five days to receive this email:
We’re sad to hear that you’re having a negative experience with a Change.org user’s petition.
Thank you for writing to us to flag this content as bullying. Change.org is an open platform with tens of thousands of petitions started by people with vastly different perspectives on our platform each month. As we can’t monitor all petitions, we rely on our users to report content that may violate our [Terms of Service](https://www.change.org/about/terms-of-service) and [Community Guideline](https://www.change.org/about/community-guidelines).
We will continue to monitor the petition and related complaints, and take action if the situation escalates. Please provide us more details on abuse around this petition – we will review it and take further action if appropriate.
Thanks again for contacting us, and do let us know if you have any questions.
From US Office/Help Desk
A second request with a reiteration of a petition’s false allegations result in this reply:
We’re sad to hear that you’re having a negative experience with a Change.org user’s petition, and we really appreciate you contacting us.
Change.org merely provides a platform for our users to create and publish petitions. We do not monitor content of users, and we are not in a position to determine whether any content is indeed in violation of our harassment policy. If you are able to obtain a policy order or a court order establishing that the content in this petition leads to harassment you are currently experiencing, we will be able to reconsider your request.
We have however informed the petition starter of your claim in order to give them a chance to modify or remove the allegedly defamatory content.
Thank you for contacting us, and do let us know if you have any questions.
So more than a week after the first complaint, you are informed that in order to stop this petition, you must hire an attorney and wait for a court date.
As they say, “we are not in a position to determine whether any content is indeed in violation of our harassment policy.” Even though it is their policy, they’re not in a position to determine whether there is a violation of it.
Also, change.org does not require a real person’s name be attached to a petition. Make up a name. Give a quick anonymous gmail address. Congratulations, you’re in!
Buried in the petition guidelines is the advice that if you don’t agree with a petition, rather than asking change.org to take it down, you should create an opposing petition and get into a social media campaign in order to gather more signatures than the petition that was started against you in the first place.
But this isn’t like voting. No one ‘wins’ except the people involved in this shadow campaign to discredit you or your business. There’s no hearing to determine right or wrong.
So be careful, friends. Read and think about what you’re signing before you rush in to align yourself with that next change.org petition. Anyone can use it, free, and make any allegations they wish without having to prove anything to do it. Entities targeted by such petitions are not given any benefit of the doubt or asked whether the allegation is true, and if they want the petition ended, they have to go to court.
This is mob rule.