• stumble
  • youtube
  • linkedin

Archives for : online activism

Time to BOYCOTT , EXPOSED once again #socialmedia

I have exposed change .org two years back and every now and then the true colours are shown in their contradictory campaigns. Below is information why, after hosting more then 250 petitions i  have boycotted


What’s Changing At



In its community guidelines “Don’ts” list, — the online petition company — makes clear that hate speech against any group is strictly prohibited.

“We’re fans of free speech, but we don’t allow hate speech,” the site informs users, defining it as “typically the advocacy of beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people based on characteristics such as their age, color, disability, ethnic origin, gender identity, nationality, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, medical condition, or veteran status.”

So when a user from Fort Worth, Texasposted a petition three weeks ago demanding that Caitlyn Jenner be stripped of her 1976 Olympic gold medal — based on the user’s conclusion that if “she has always believed herself to be truly female,” she “therefore, was in violation of committee rules regarding women competing in men’s sports and vice versa,” — users might easily have assumed the petition would be immediately taken down.

More than 15,000 signatures and an International Olympic Committee response later, the petition remains on the site. Weeks after it was first posted, the company appended a note to the petition affirming that while it had “received a high number of user flags,” the system used by the public to alert the company to potential Terms of Service violations, “ is an open platform and doesn’t endorse any petitions.”



The same company guidelines also explicitly state that the site will not “tolerate abuse, stalking, threats, trolling, or any form of bullying.” So, it seemed obvious that when ThinkProgress discovered an 11-month old petition from a Latvian user urging a Sint Maarten-based online forum for computer game hackers to ban a user because “he’s a homosexual,” it would have to go.

But nearly a week after ThinkProgress flagged the petition as inappropriate, relying on the company’s community policing process, the petition remained active and open. It was only removed after a media inquiry was sent to the company asking about this specific petition and a series of other petitions that appeared to violate the site’s terms of service.

Muslims, undocumented immigrants, LGBT people, people who may be HIV positive, and women who have reported sexual assaults have also faced the sort of hate speech and bullying the site claims to prohibit. At least one petition attacking each of those groups remained on the site even after being brought to the company’s attention. And just last week, in the wake of a racially motivated mass murder at a historically black church in Charleston, a user from Pennsylvania launched a petition defending the flying of the Confederate flag at the South Carolina capitol.



As the nation and Internet grapple with questions about how to balance free speech with protecting privacy and guarding against online bullying and harassment, presents an interesting case study. Like YouTube, Twitter, Reddit, and other Internet fora, faces daily decisions on what content to permit and what content to remove. But because of its evolution from progressive platform to open petition site, the company has faced some unique challenges as it grapples with the definition of “hate speech” — and several minority group activists and former employees have not been happy with the results.

‘A Business Model For Social Good’

The presence of these right-wing-attack petitions may come as a surprise to some users who share acommonmisconception that is a progressive non-profit website. While the name and URL give the impression of being a non-profit, it is not.

“We are social enterprise and that’s because we have an ambitious mission — to empower people everywhere to create the change they want to see — and to scale that mission, we need a sustainable business model. For the foreseeable future, all of our revenue will be reinvested in the company,” a company spokeswoman explained to ThinkProgress, but the company hopes to someday turn a profit for its investors.

The company plays up its status as a certified B Corporation — a distinction given to companies that “meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency — and claims to utilize “a business model for social good.”

Originally, the site had a progressive aim. In 2012 came under fire from the AFL-CIOfor promoting anti-union petitions for for two education reform organizations: Stand for Childrenand StudentsFirst. According to its IRS filings, StudentsFirst — the group created by former DC Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee — paid more than $1.6 million for “membership services” in fiscal year 2012-2013. After the relationship came to light, said it had “listened closely to the community of users, who have voiced their concerns in response to this decision” and decided to end its work for both groups.

Soon after, leaked internal memos revealed that the company, which once accepted advertisements only from progressive organizations that share the company’s values and worldview, had decided to adopt an “open advertising policy in which determinations about which advertisements we’ll accept are based on the content of the ad, not the group doing the advertising.” That meant the site would now accept ads, and money, from “organizations that represent all points of view, including those with which [’s leaders] personally (and strongly) disagree.”

Company founder and CEO Ben Rattray defended the changes, writing at the Huffington Post: “If we weren’t open to everyone, and if we limited access based on a set of political viewpoints, we would undercut the power of our petition creators and users. We would be perceived as an advocacy group ourselves, and the media and decision makers would often typecast petition creators as players in our supposed issue agenda, rather than the independent agents of change they are.”

Both StudentsFirst and Stand for Children returned to the fold as customers.

Now free to market its services to political forces of all stripes, has taken on some very conservative clients and is actively seeking to expand its reach into those circles, to boost its revenue from the right half of the political sphere. The anti-LGBTpro-climate denial Independent Journal Review is a current sponsor, encouraging petition signers who believe in “common sense conservative news” to register with them. hastakenmore than $108,000 over the past year and a half to expand the supporter lists of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), the campaign arm of the House Republicans majority, according to its filings with the Federal Election Commission.

ChangeORg IJR conserative news


An open “director of business development – DC” position currently advertised on the company’s site seeks someone to “sell’s advertising and list-building services to industry-leading organizations across the country that focus on issues that resonate with conservative Americans … tap into and grow your existing networks of center-right political campaigns and issue groups in the US to introduce them to,” and “establish relationships with leading consulting, fundraising, and digital marketing firms on the center/right side of the aisle.”

Kini Schoop, director of media relations for, told ThinkProgress in an email, “we are not a progressive platform. We are an open platform for people with diverse perspectives to use for change.”

Users who sign liberal-themed petitions allow the company to market itself to progressive organizations as a good way to reach like-minded members — and the same is true for those on the right. “If you were to use to sign mostly progressive petitions,” Schoop explained, “then you are also more likely to see sponsored petitions from [organizations] that reflect that view. Users who are signing more conservative petitions, are more likely to see a sponsored petition from an organization like the NRCC.”

An Open Internet

David Sullivan is policy and communications director for the Global Network Initiative, a non-profit organization that works to support “freedom of expression and privacy in information and communications technology.”

With the increased attention on the damaging effects of online hate speech, Sullivan said in an email, “Online platforms for user-generated content face difficult dilemmas supporting free expression and combating online harassment, challenges which are multiplied many times over when operating internationally.” To deal with the difficult balance, he noted, “companies can benefit from working closely with human rights organizations to ensure that there is adequate oversight and safeguards in their systems.”

The questions of how to handle hate speech are not unique to Sites like YouTube also rely on user policing — but this approach requires significant resources to review flagged content. YouTube says it has staffers doing this 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so it can quickly remove any inappropriate content.

Other more neutral platforms, like Twitter, prohibit illegal activities but allow hate speech. Recently, Twitter changed its violent threats policy to make clear that threats of violence against others and the promotion of violence against others are prohibited (previously it had only barred “direct, specific threats of violence against others”). Last month, Twitter permanently suspended a user described by the Washington Post as “one of the Internet’s most infamous trolls,” after he tweeted seeking funds to help “take out” a civil rights activist.

And even beyond harassment, online companies each take varying approaches as to how they moderate user content.

Facebook is well known for having an aggressive moderation system. Last year, it had to apologize to drag queens and other members of the LGBT community who were suspended due to a strict “real name” policy. On the other hand, a group of users of Reddit — a site famous for supporting almost any type of speech — left the site earlier this year, claiming censorship after some moderators deleted threads they considered to be harassment.



Other sites, especially in the petition space, are less permissive. The progressive non-profit MoveOn operates Petitions, a similar platform but exclusively for progressive causes. Nick Berning,’s communications director, told ThinkProgress in an email that if a similar anti-LGBT petition were to be posted on MoveOn Petitions and brought to their attention, “we’d take it down immediately, because it would be inconsistent with our community’s values and violate our Terms of Service.”

Berning observed that “the bigger distinction between Change and MoveOn isn’t in what we take down — it’s what we choose to promote. MoveOn Petitions is an explicitly progressive platform, and we only solicit and promote (via things like emails to members, expert campaign support, etc.) progressive petition campaigns.” His organization, therefore, “would never solicit, lean into, or amplify a right-wing petition. on the other hand is a for-profit that explicitly markets itself to conservatives and doesn’t just host right-wing petitions, it actively promotes them. It is a fundamentally different approach.”

Credo Mobilize, another progressive petition site operated by the progressive CREDO Mobile company, says it expects it will “probably see campaigns we don’t agree with and campaigns that might seem a bit random,” but that it will “work hard to disable campaigns that come to our attention and are defamatory, discriminatory or illegal.” As Murshed Zaheed, Credo’s deputy political director, explained in an email, “whenever we see campaigns that use ‘hate speech,’ they are immediately marked as inappropriate and suppressed from the platform.” He added that he and other colleagues “are personally looking over new petitions every morning,” and usually remove inappropriate petitions “right away.”

Todd Heywood, a contractor back when the company was officially progressive, believes the company’s evolution toward the “open platform” model has led some progressives to MoveOn and CREDO — a move he fears has created a segmenting that may dilute the strength of the message. “When you spread out the petitions over three agencies instead of one, you dilute your reach and you dilute your message. You’ll have more petitions, but you’ll have less participation. It will become less effective as a tool — and an organizing tool in particular — because people won’t have this one-stop shop.”

But for some groups on the left, that’s a risk they are willing to take. American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten told ThinkProgress in an email: “There are many other vendors and partners who provide the same services as, and that are also aligned with our values and goals. In this case, that allows us to keep our business with firms that aren’t working to undermine our members and the communities they serve.”

‘Making Money Off The Backs Of The LGBT Community’

The international attention the anti-Jenner petition garnered was enough to draw a response from the International Olympic Committee: A statement from its communications director affirming that “Bruce Jenner won his [sic] gold medal in the 1976 Olympic Games and there is no issue for the IOC.” This response generated even more attention and widespread internationalnewscoverage.

Though the petition is carefully worded to not appear overtly anti-trans, going so far as to include “congratulations to Ms. Jenner for her courage,” LGBT rights activists said its plea for Jenner to “support the transgender community by giving up the medals earned by competing against the wrong gender” seemsdesigned as an attack on both Jenner and the transgender community.

One such activist is Michael Rogers, the executive director of Netroots Connect (a conference for LGBT media and activists). He told ThinkProgress that for several years he has observed that a large number of anti-LGBT petitions have been posted on and not removed, even after the company was alerted to them. And he believes the company’s business model relies on these petitions, but tries to hide it.

Rogers noted that violence against transgender people is an ongoing problem and expressed concern that anti-trans petitions could contribute to a hostile climate.

As a test, Rogers explained, he created a petition some time ago calling for one of the most extreme anti-trans policy ideas he could come up with. “I put up a petition demanding that trans people put up photos in their neighborhood if they planned on transitioning for a month before hand, with an artist rendering of what they planned to look like,” he recalled, and said he alerted company employees that it was online. “They wouldn’t take it down,” Rogers said, and, ultimately “I had to take it down myself.”

Brianna Cayo-Cotter, head of global communications for said in email, “We have no record of this alleged petition and want to highlight that users do not have the ability to delete petitions without assistance from our help desk. We have alerted ThinkProgress to the inaccuracies of this account, and are disappointed an unverified claim remains on record.”

Less preposterous (but still anti-LGBT) sentiments have also been evident in large petitions to support anti-LGBT activists like Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty and the DuggarFamily of 19 Kids and Counting.

Rogers noted that when he created a similarly outrageous test petition — a demand for the Supreme Court to reverse Loving v. Virginia (the 1966 case that overturned state laws banning interracial marriage) — deleted it almost immediately. But a ThinkProgress review of currently active and closed but still visible petitions found one urging someone to “stop being a [racial slur]” and another demanding the deportation of “illegals” who it claims are spreading cholera and tuberculosis in the United States.



The apparent relative tolerance for hateful petitions, Rogers says, “shows how preposterous their moneymaking model is. Make no mistake — they depend on the Duck Dynasties and the [Jim] Bob and Michelle Duggars of this world to pay their staff.”

Once the company reviews flagged content, not all users are happy with what the company deems acceptable. After reviewing them for Terms of Service violations following ThinkProgress inquiries, allowed these other campaigns, that could be deemed hate speech, to remain active:

Demanding that President Obama, UK Prime Minister David Cameron, and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon launch an investigation into “whether Islam is antithetical to Human Rights. The petition compares Islam to Nazism and warns: “The roots of the violence and persecution of other religions which we see both today, and in the history of the belief, are there plainly in the Koran and especially the Hadith or life of Muhammad.”

Opposing drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants. The petition’s 1,000-plus signers agreed that “What should be done is to make illegals follow the laws like everyone else and become a citizen. A license is a privelege [sic] and should be earned. We continue to give all kinds of benefits to people living here illegally and it needs to stop. Do not continue to reward illegal activity.” The petition is now closed but still online.

Promoting the ex-gay movement. More than 2,800 users demand that President Obama meet with “those of us who have left the homosexual lifestyle” as he has with “countless people who are participating in the homosexual lifestyle.”

Demanding legal action against a woman who reported being sexually assaulted. The author opined that Columbia University anti-rape activist Emma Sulkowicz had “no evidence” to back up her allegations and claimed that “new evidence has surfaced [that] she lied about the raped [sic].” The petition demands “she be pressed charges [sic] for her defamation.”

A former staffer told ThinkProgress that in the past, a petition like the anti-Jenner one would most likely have been removed by a team of staffers that reviewed each day’s new petitions for hate speech. The staffer, who asked not to be identified as his current employer did not authorize him to speak on the record, said it is “reasonable to assume” that the identities of the people who signed the Jenner petition and those like it will be used to help market the site to conservative businesses.

The former staffer also noted that while claims to be an open platform where grassroots activists create petitions, during his tenure there, “the biggest campaigns didn’t just happen — they were engineered internally, with finding a petition starter, creating a story for the media about how this perfect person just happened to show up to start a campaign about an issue they just happened to be the perfect person for.” As such, according to this former employee, the company played a large editorializing role beyond just allowing an open platform — and may well do the same on behalf of the conservative organizations the company is now actively recruiting.’s director of policy, Sunita Bose, told ThinkProgress that she does not see a contradiction between being an open platform and having some staff involvement with some of the campaigns. In a follow-up email, she added: “Like all open platforms, we feature some content — that’s why you receive emails from YouTube with videos they think you may be interested in. We have a very small campaigns team that supports a small proportion of petitions with particularly compelling stories we think will resonate with our users, and other people. We have policies with ethical standards, including things like fact checking, around the campaigns we promote.”

Where Is The Line?

In addition to being a former contractor, Todd Heywood is a freelance writer and an expert in HIV criminalization and discrimination issues. Now, he said, the site has become a haven for offensive right-wing rhetoric, including petitions outing people who are allegedly living with HIV.

According to Heywood, this is particularly dangerous because “when you out someone as being HIV positive, you put them at risk for violence and potentially criminal action, depending on the state. Forced disclosure has led to several murders of women living with HIV.”

Naina Khanna is the executive director of Positive Women’s Network – USA. She said her organization sought help from when a June 2014 petition with the name “Aware the Public” accused a named individual of rape and of transmitting HIV to the petition creator’s sister. “We Reached out to, asking to them to exercise editorial control, to either edit or remove the petition,” she recalled, adding that her organization “explained why we felt this was really stigmatizing.”

The letter, sent to, noted that company’s definition of a petition was “a public message to one or more decision-makers, asking them to do something” and that the posted accusations “may not even qualify as a ‘petition.’” It also noted that the petition’s language calling the accused “already known for having AIDS” clearly “maligns a person based on a condition he may live with — a characteristic about himself that he cannot change,” in violation of the official hate speech guidelines.

Khanna shared the response’s Bose sent her, rejecting the request, with ThinkProgress. It stated:

If we received a claim from the man named in the petition, we would consider removing the petition but, in the absence of that, it’s the petition starter’s choice whether they want to edit or remove their petition. As an Internet platform, it’s not our place to judge people’s guilt or innocence nor to fact check every claim in the 30,000+ petitions that are started by people on every month.

We don’t evaluate hypothetical situations publicly, but I want to stress that if a petition was written with the sole intention of revealing someone’s HIV status or to malign all people with HIV, it would almost certainly violate our terms and be removed.

Khanna believes needs to do a better job of enforcing its terms of service. “It is the responsibility of a site like to be responsible in terms of exercising some sort of control,” she said. “They say they are not a place where bullying or harassment is allowed. This [kind of petition] is both.”

Asked about her company’s policing process,’s senior communications manager Shareeza Bhola said in an email that, “like YouTube and other open Internet platforms, we ask our users to flag any content that violates our Community Guidelines or Terms of Service. Our community can flag content by reporting it as inappropriate, writing to our help center, or by otherwise escalating it to our staff. Once we receive those flags, we have a team who monitor them, and if the content violates our policies, we will remove it.”

As for how many flags the company receives and how long it takes for offensive petitions to be removed, Bhola did not provide numbers but noted, “We have a Customer Advocacy team based in SF who work with contractors around the world to manage abuse complaints. The amount of time it takes to make these determinations varies greatly depending on the content — for example, we can relatively quickly judge if content is inciting violence.”’s Schoop said the company sees “over 1,000 new petitions every day” and has “only a small team of people reviewing the flags.” She added that the site recently updated its community guidelines and its “definition of hate speech includes content that maligns a whole class of people based on their gender identity, and sexual orientation.” But, she noted, to empower “anyone, anywhere, to create the change they want to see,” the company takes “suppressing the voice of any one of our users extremely seriously, which is why any content removal needs to be in line with our Terms of Service and Community Guidelines.”

Bose acknowledged that the company has room for improvement as far as its policing speed. Noting the site’s rapid growth, she explained the site needs to grow its reviewing team: “This is an area [in which] we’re still catching up,” she said, noting that the company is currently in the hiring process for a “trust and safety lead.”

“These are tough challenges that all open Internet platforms face,” Bose observed. “To stay open, safe, and empowering,” she explained, the site has created an internal “decision flow, to determine whether content is bullying and hate speech.” doesn’t release that information publicly to ensure people don’t “game the system.”

Victories Every Day points to a number of progressive victories as evidence of the site’s influence. In April, they note, Netflix pledged to make all of their major original programs accessible to the blind, after more than 3,000 users urged them to do so. An Indiana lawmaker stripped language from his own bill in February after more than 236,000 people signed a petition warning it would hinder anti-bullying efforts in schools. After nearly 70,000 people signed a petition urging a policy change, the international basketball governing body agreed to allow players to wear religious head coverings.



It can be hard to gauge how much of an impact the petitions had in making the highlighted victories happen — and what constitutes a win.

A 2014 petition launched by former NFL punter Chris Kluwe garnered more than 80,000 signatures demanding the Minnesota Vikings release the results of an investigation they conducted into allegations of discrimination against their former player. After Kluwe agreed to a settlement with the team that did not include a full release of the report, he and the company deemed it a victory. Kluwe noted on the site that “the Vikings were very much aware of this petition and concerned about the resulting negative attention. We decided that it was not in our best interest — or the public’s interest — to force the team to release the entire investigation report publicly due to privacy concerns.”

2012 petition highlighted by suggests that it helped Trayvon Martin’s parents win “justice” for their son. Though charges were filed against Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman, he was acquitted in 2013.

In an email to ThinkProgress highlighting the site’s victories for LGBT causes,’s Schoop noted, “Just today, a petition got [former Arkansas Republican Governor] Mike Huckabee kicked out of a conference hosted by the Jewish National Fund in Canada for his views on LGBTQ issues.” But the petition she linked to had garnered just 31 supporters and the news article mentioned in her email quoted the Jewish National Fund’s CEO saying that the petition “had absolutely no impact whatsoever” on the group’s decision to cancel Huckabee’s keynote speech.

The impact of some of the petitions, however, is undeniable. After Scouts for Equality and former Cub Scout leader Jennifer Tyrrell collected millions of signatures urging the Boy Scouts of America to eliminate its anti-LGBT policy, a largely-dormant movement was reignited. The organization lifted its ban on gay youth in 2013 and last month its president called for an end to the national ban on LGBT adults.

Zach Wahls, executive director of Scouts for Equality told ThinkProgress that played a “critical role” in the effort. “The amount of signatures you can amass in one place really helps put a number on what the interest looks like — especially when you have such a compelling story as we do with the Scouts.” Wahls said the resulting media attention had a real impact on the national Boy Scout leadership: “I think what the platform did for us was to help put media attention on the issue. And that media attention is what caught the attention of BSA.”

Schoop said the site sees “almost one victory every hour on a wide range of topics.” She added, “Our homepage reflects some of the largest and most timely victories, and we gather all our victories here:”

As for the question of why the list seemingly omits conservative victories, like the petition to keep Phil Robertson and Duck Dynasty on the air, Schoop had no response.

‘A Tacit Endorsement?’

Ben Rattray founder and CEO Ben Rattray

While many of the hateful petitions posted on receive only a handful of signatures, their presence can have a harmful effect, activists say. A since-removed petition seen by ThinkProgress calling for President Obama to “remove overly homosexual fagboy [name omitted] from existence” attracted just 14 signatures. But, critics note, this sort of petition need only be seen by that individual (whose apparent photo appeared in the petition) or one of his friends or family to cause serious damage to the person’s safety and well-being.

“Any time you have rhetoric in the body politic that is toxic, it sends a message to the targeted group — whether it’s LGBT, immigrants, Muslims, Jews, or even Christians — that [they] are less-than in American society. That helps create all sorts of insecurities for the individuals as well as social safety issues. When you perceive someone as less-than a full member of society, you’re more likely to start denying basic rights,” the former contractor Heywood warned. founder Ben Rattray has saidrepeatedly that he created the site precisely because he wanted to support minority communities. Rattray told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2012 that his younger brother came out to him as gay before the rest of his conservative family knew, and that he regretted not supporting him sufficiently. As his brother’s school attendance declined, he began experimenting with drugs, and he threatened to run away, Rattray stayed silent.

“The lack of active rejection of the venom of homophobia is still a tacit endorsement,” Rattray said. “It’s exacerbated by people like me.”


Related posts

#Censorship – Decline in web freedom steepest in India #socialmedia #WTFnews

, TNN | Oct 3, 2013, 07.05 PM IST

Decline in web freedom steepest in India: Report
India saw the “most significant year-on-year decline” in terms of the web freedom, according to a report.
NEW DELHI: In a report on the state of internet in 60 countries, Freedom House, a US-based organization, said that in 2013 India saw the “most significant year-on-year decline” in terms of the web freedom.The report said that that the internet in India was “partly free”. This is the same status that India had in 2012. But the country’s score is now 47 points (higher means more censorship) in 2013 compared to 39 in 2012. The 8-point fall is the steepest Freedom House found among all 60 countries that the group surveyed. Freedom House said it recorded 5-point fall in Brazil, Venezuela and the US.

Despite mass surveillance revealed by Edward Snowden, a former contractor for National Security Agency in the US, Freedom House calls the web in the country “free”.

The Freedom House report said that in 2013 India “suffered from deliberate interruptions of mobile and internet service to limit unrest, excessive blocks on content during rioting in northeastern states, and an uptick in the filing of criminal charges against ordinary users for posts of social media sites”.

In 2013, India’s commitment to the web freedom has not only been worse than developed countries but has also been inferior to countries like Malawi, Tunisia and Mexico.

In the case of India, Freedom House particularly singles out Central Monitoring System, which Indian government is putting in place to regulate and monitor the web usage within the country. “Surveillance (under CMS) requires no judicial oversight. While some of this activity might be justifiable, the lack of transparency surrounding the system, which was never reviewed by Parliament, is concerning,” it notes in the report. “The system’s potential for abuse is also disquieting, as is its inadequate legal framework.

The report cites the case of the girl who was arrested for liking a Facebook post in Maharashtra, blocking of some Twitter accounts belonging to Indian users, overly broad court directives that have resulted in blocking of websites and a general lack of transparency in how Indian government blocks or filters content reach a conclusion that Indians now have less freedom on how they use the web.

Sunil Abraham, director at Bangalore-based Centre for Internet and Society, says that Freedom House reports are not very accurate because they don’t factor in censorship by copyright holders. But he agreed with its basic premise that in India conditions for web users are getting more difficult.

“The report is absolutely right in pointing out that censorship and surveillance in India is increasing. Despite protests from many quarters, it is a real pity that the government is not taking steps to amend the IT act and has joined other nation states in the global race to the bottom of the internet freedom,” said Abraham.

Anja Kovacs, founder of Delhi-based Internet Democracy Project, agrees. “I have some issues with Freedom House reports due to how they are prepared and their methodologies. But yes I can say that last year has been very eventful and difficult,” said. “But at the same time, there has also been a lot of push back from web users and activists. There have been conversations around the issue of web censorship, which is good.”

Globally, the web surveillance is on the rise. “Broad surveillance, new laws controlling web content, and growing arrests of social-media users drove a worldwide decline in internet freedomin the past year,” noted Freedom House.

Overall, 34 out of 60 countries part of the report saw a decline in the web freedom. “Vietnam and Ethiopia continued on a worsening cycle of repression; Venezuela stepped up censorship during presidential elections; and three democracies—India, the United States, and Brazil—saw troubling declines,” noted the report.

Iceland and Estonia topped the list of countries with the greatest degree of internet freedom. China, Cuba, and Iran were found to be the most repressive countries.


Enhanced by Zemanta

Related posts

#India – : Campaign Victory’s exposed #Vaw #Socialmedia

Kamayani Bali Mahabal, April 23 2013 , Kracktivism

l 23, 2013, Kractivism

  “Every day, members win people-powered campaigns for social change”.

Just to give a background to those, who are reading about for first time. It’s a popular and fast-growing website for petitions. In the last  two years, has grown from 1 million to more than 25  million users, according to the site . It began as a liberal blogging site and then pivoted  to become a hub for petitions, mostly with a liberal or populist bent.

Staring as domain name to its declaration that “our business is social good” to its certification as a B Corporation, positioned itself as a progressive force. It promised to run campaigns for “organizations fighting for the public good and the common values we hold dear—fairness, equality, and justice.” That’s no longer its mission.  Something changed last year, The policy changed, ‘ partners’ became ‘advertisers ‘in the name openness, democracy and empowerment . So which means now  they will accept paid promotions from conservative organizations, Corporations , that no bar. I had written   Open letter to CEO Ben Rattray last year  in which I said I will not participate but monitor

So here is an expose of monitoring  campaigns of in India

 In India   we have two petitions being  hosted on, one by victims and one by perpetrators ?

You think I am joking please read below

The Incident behind both the  petitions :-

Late evening on 11 April 2013, a group of students from Nalsar Law  University went to the Rain Club located in Banjara Hills, Hyderabad, for what was meant to be a farewell party for the graduating seniors.

When they stepped out of the club around 10.30pm to wait for their cab, one of the women students spotted someone taking their pictures with a mobile  phone. She objected and demanded to see the mobile. The mobile turned out to be a dummy, without a card in it. When she further objected and demanded that the phone with which photos were taken be handed over, other media cameramen who were present began to film the altercation.

The students were outraged at this invasion of their privacy and the callous response of media cameramen who continued the harassment by following them to the car and persisting in filming them even as they were vehemently protesting this invasion.

The next morning several Telugu channels began showing the footage. Some websites also put up the footage. TV9, ABN Andhra Jyoti, Sakshi TV, Studio N, NTV, IdlyTV, News 24 .

The incident represents blatant sexual harassment of women in a public place, criminal intimidation of the women with threat of public defamation through media. The anchors of the channels repeatedly referred to the women as  punch drunk, half naked, and nude, when the women students were dressed in strapless evening wear. One of the female anchors referred to their attire  as “creepily offensive short clothes.” They also claimed that they were dancing in the club although the entire story was played out on the street and not inside the club. The media persons were not present inside the club. To make matters worse, CVR News put together several clips of provocative dancing from various sources, implying that the present incident was somehow connected to those. Significantly, while only a couple of channels were present outside the  club and were involved in the incident, the story was generously shared with many other channels and web sites. All the channels replayed the footage  provided by the offending channels without providing any opportunity for the  victims of this coverage to respond or give their side of the story.

The channels also were assuming the tone of moral police, claiming that the students were “leaving Indian traditions in tatters by their dressing and  behaviour”. The anchors of the channels took on the role of moral police  by commenting on the young girls’ clothing, even as the channels’ staple fare  for advertising revenue on their news bulletins comprises song and dance sequences from films and film events featuring skimpily clad women doing vulgar dances to vulgar lyrics. The reporters and anchors held forth on excessive freedom for women and its “devastating” effects on society.

The channels also falsely claimed that the students’ behaviour was condemned by women’s organizations even though they only showed the statements of two little-known local politicians, thereby misleading public opinion.

So here on change org , we have a petition by supporters of NALSAR students  asking for  Stringent actions against media houses participating in voyeuristic reporting ,  addressed to Justice Katju, Chairperson, Press Council of India , Justice N V Ramana, Acting Chief Justice, High Court of Andhra Pradesh , Ms Aruna D K, Minister for Information & Public Relations, Cinematography, AP Film, TV & Theatre Dvlpt Corp, AP  Justice Verma, Chairperson, News and Broadcasting Standards Authority Mr Manish Tiwari, Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Union of India

The petition says

The media in our country has engaged in relentless sensationalism, resorting to cheap and lowly tactics to raise TRPs and viewership. This includes airing concocted stories; violating people’s privacy by taking video footage, morphing the images and airing it against completely fabricated and sensationalistic stories; secretly taking videos of people in private parties and clubs and extorting them; and engaging in harassing and abusive conduct. One such incident of unethical, irresponsible, and victimizing behaviour is an incident that occurred on the 121h of April, 2013 to college girls from NALSAR University of Law.The petition has reached 5000 plus signatures


And on the other hand, we also have giving platform to the  voyeuristic reporters .with a petition floated by Electronic Media Journalists’ Association of AP , asking to Condemn the action of a group of students who assaulted media persons   addressed to, Manish Tiwari, I&B Minister, Govt of India , Prof. (Dr) Faizan Mustafa ,, Vice-Chancellor, Nalsar , Mrs D K Aruna, Minister of State in AP , Justice Mr M Katju, Chairperson, Press Council of India Justice Katju ,Justice Verma, Chairperson, News and Broadcasting Standards Authority ,Justice N V Ramana, Acting Chief Justice, High Court of Andhra Pradesh ,Hari Prasad, President of Electronic Media Journalists’ Association of AP Please note the targets of both petitions are same .

The petition says

Andhra Pradesh has the maximum number of television news channels not only in India but also in the entire world. The ratings and the importance of these channels show how reliable and responsible the media is in Andhra Pradesh. They never restore to cheap and lowly tactics. There is self-monitoring desk as well as the important organization NBA that keeps monitor on all the channels content.

This petition also has 5000 plus signatures


Now I want to ask, which petition’s victory will be their victory ?

Wait a minute,

whoever wins or loses,

 it’s a Win- Win situation for

As a big fans of freedom of speech, they claim their democractic platform. and well whoever wins. Change will be their submitting the petition claiming their VICTORY !! . But I wonder what will they do when they have to take a STAND ? So which petition will they push ? or will; they push both ? and then see pros and cons in context of the political situation and in a closed door meeting then thrash out two teams to work on these two petitions . Call both parties  and weigh the  probabilities and then take a call, keeping both parties in dark on probabilities ?.

So, guys wake up, all those who petition on .This online platform is a for profit  company ,  who through these petitions is  trying legitimize their image as that of  ACTIVISM .They also get  commercial benefits through donations and sponsorships just by providing platform to all you ,under the garb of various human rights issues . VICTORY is for’s mission  statement says ‘ to empower people everywhere to create the change they want to see, and we believe the best way to achieve that mission is by combining the values of a non-profit with the flexibility and innovation of a tech startup. ” They call themselves “social enterprise,” using the power of business for social good. “Social Enterprise,” is a term that’s gotten a lot of hold among people who start companies and want to make a difference in the world. But social enterprise as opposed to what? Anti-social enterprise?

Here is where’s business model comes into play. sells what are called “sponsored petitions” to its advertisers. Most are nonprofits–right now they include Amnesty International USA, Greenpeace and the Human Rights Campaign — but there’s nothing to prevent companies from sponsoring petitions. Tapping into its audience, collects names on those petitions and then sells those who opt in to the sponsor, for about $2 per name. Some advertisers get discounts, and other pay more, for example, for people in specific states. Here is a request to Change .org , please, on behalf of companies everywhere Spare us the pieties about how “our business is social good.” is a digital media business. Like MTV or Facebook, It creates or aggregates content, the  petitions,  to attract an audience whose attention, in the form of email addresses, it sells to sponsors.

It’s not selling social change. It’s selling you and me.  .

So here is my Appeal to all friends, activists,  celebrating their victories,  and  petitions on,

It’s  time ….

If you’re a member at take action by unsubscribing from their list. At the very least they can’t profit further off your email.. If you see petitions passed around by friends on don’t sign them and inform them what’s going on.  It’s important to Explore alternatives

Hopefully the activists in India will very soon have their own activist, accountable, and transparent platform.

Watch out this blog for more 🙂

Related posts

Anonymous India Calls for Non-violent Protests Against Censorship

Added 29th May 2012

John Ribeiro

The Indian arm of Anonymous is planning what it describes as non-violent protests against Internet censorship in various Indian cities, after some Internet service providers blocked file-sharing sites in the country.

The protests, planned for June 9, follow a court order in March directed at ISPs, meant to prevent a newly released local movie from being offered in a pirated version online. Some ISPs went ahead and blocked some file-sharing sites altogether, rather than the offending URLs.

One such ISP, Reliance Communications, found its service was tinkered with last week, redirecting its users from sites like Facebook and Twitter to a protest page, according to reports from users. The hackers also claimed to have attacked the website and servers of Reliance, and claimed to have got access to a large list of URLs blocked by the company.

Reliance Communications said on Monday it had thoroughly investigated the matter and all its servers and websites are intact. “We have required preventive measures and strongest possible IT security layers in place to tackle any unwarranted intrusions,” the company said in a statement. “Despite repeated attempts by hackers, our servers could not be hacked.”

The hackers also claimed to have attacked websites of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the main opposition party in the country, after having previously launched DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks on various websites including that of the Indian central bank, Reserve Bank of India.

Anonymous was active in India last year, when it attacked the website of the Indian army. It quickly reversed its decision to attack the site and kept a low profile after drawing protests from some of its own members.

Anonymous is asking supporters to download and print cut-outs of the Guy Fawkes mask, used by the hacker group as a logo, to be worn during the anti-censorship street protests.

The group’s protests are also directed at India’s Information Technology Act, which among other things allows the government to block websites under certain conditions, and also allows the removal of online content by notice to ISPs. The government is in the process of framing rules that will put curbs on freedom on social media, Anonymous said in a recent video, presumably a reference to demands by the government that Internet companies should have a mechanism in place to filter objectionable content, including content that mocks religious figures.

India’s Computer Emergency Response Team observed last week that hacker groups are launching DDoS attacks on government and private websites. These attacks may be targeted at different websites of reputed organizations, the agency said in an advisory. The attacks are being launched using popular DDoS tools and can consume bandwidth requiring appropriate proactive action in coordination with service providers, it added.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. John’s e-mail address is[email protected]

Related posts