Online petitions have been around for a while now, and can be spread over many different media platforms. The most popular source of these petitions is via a website called change.org. Change.org has made it easier for any person to start a petition, whether it is political or personal. But how effective are these petitions really?
Recently, an online petition was posted in regards to Eastern University’s COVID rules that require students to fill out a form before leaving campus for any reason, even essential reasons. The petition was
posted to one of Eastern’s Facebook pages and, at the time this article was written, has 123 out of the
200 goal signatures.
After two weeks, nothing has come from the petition to get rid of the Campus Exit Form, and it does not seem like anything will come of it either.
While the previously mentioned petition had little to no traction, which could be a result of the lack of
signatures, many large petitions have yielded similar results.
After the death of Breonna Taylor, a petition was started on change.org demanding justice for her killing. This petition has since gained over 11 million signatures from people across the country, and even
around the world, all demanding that the officers involved in her shooting face charges relating to her
death. However, as we have seen, the petition was no use in serving her justice.
In a 2016 article published by the New York Times, the point is brought up that politicians are unlikely to
completely change their viewpoints and policies over an internet petition. Honestly, politicians are still unlikely to change their minds even with a petition that took place in person, collecting signatures “off the street.” Online petitions are viewed as being “not good enough” at achieving the justice that is viewed as the goal for each petition. Just signing a name is not as effective as going out and demanding justice be done for a certain incident.
Change.org has an option after signing a petition to share the petition on social media, which can be effective in helping to achieve the goal aimed for. In political based petitions, there is often an option as well to contact the representative in charge of taking care of what the petition is asking for. While just signing petitions is simply not enough, signing petitions alongside sharing the petition and contacting those that the petition is asking something of can certainly help gain awareness and spread the message that the petition is trying to convey.
That being said, there are quite a few petitions that have been successful through change.org. The website boasts roughly one victory per hour as a result of their petitions.
Over the last decade, many petitions have been successful thanks to change.org. One of the more successful petitions led to the signing of the PACT Act. The PACT Act made animal cruelty a federal felony, and after the bill had stalled in the House of too long, the petition brought forth more attention to the bill and helped speed up the process of passing it into law.
The PACT Act petition only had 800,000 signatures to work, whereas the petition for Breonna Taylor has
over 11 million signatures and has yet to be successful.
Overall, online petitions may work sometimes, but many times they don’t, it doesn’t seem to matter how
many signatures, but more about who the petition is aimed towards.