With act.ly, we set out to prove Twitter could be used for activism if a tool was designed specifically for it. 100k tweets and 78 million impressions later, the highlights:
- A petition asking Congressman Joe Wilson to apologize for yelling "you lie" at Obama during the State of the Union instantly picks up over a thousand tweets in an hour forcing the the Congressman to issue an apology. The petition also kicked off a fundraising drive on ActBlue of over a million dollars for his primary opponent, Rob Miller. View petition.
- Eight hours after a concerned Romanian citizen petitions Google to add Romania to Google Maps, Google responds. Later, Romania is not only added to Google Maps, but some areas get Street View too. View petition.
- After witnessing a scarcity of women panelist at the Web 2.0 summit, the group WomenWhoTech successfully petition founder Tim O'Reilly to include more women in future summits and also spurs him to issue a lengthy response. View petition. In a related petition, Kaya Walton, a closet tech geek and mother of one petitioned Wired Magazine to include more women and people of color in conference panels. Wired quickly responds they will "try harder next time." View petition.
- Google is petitioned to remove a racist caricature of Michelle Obama from the #1 spot on their image search. Shortly, the caricature is gone. View petition.
- Newsweek is petitioned to stop pigeonholing famous women as "bitches" and "ballbusters," leading the magazine to quickly issue a response trying to explain themselves. View petition.
Erin Matson, NOW's Action Vice President, started a petition to Newsweek demanding a new article after the magazine printed an article claiming young women don't care about abortion rights without quoting any young women. Within 24 hours, an editor for Newsweek called Erin and held a special online forum. View petition.
Jordan Raynor started a petition to Foursquare to add an "I Voted" check-in badge for election day to aid get out the vote efforts. They did it. View petition.
- Over 1,200 people tweet a pledge from American Rights at Work stating the U.S. Chamber of Commerce does not represent them, leading to the Chamber issuing a response. View petition.
- LiveNation is petitioned to stop promoting Buju Banton, an artist who advocates killing gay people, prompting the corporation to quickly cancel the tour. View petition.
- A leaked Yahoo! document revealed that the company planed to discontinue it's Delicious bookmarking service. In less than 24 hours, 4,000 people tweeted urging the company to save the site. Yahoo! quickly issued a statement that it will not kill Delicious. View petition.
- The Special Olympics asked people to pledge to perform an "act of unity" on Eunice Kennedy Shriver day. Over 1,300 people signed the pledge, including Joe Jonas from the Jonas Brothers, Maria Shriver, Coca-Cola, and the jackasses behind Jackass. View petition.
- Fans urge FOX Broadcasting to save the TV show "Running Wilde." The petition is tweeted by the stars of the show and numerous celebrities such as Rob Corddry, Stephanie Pratt, John Hodgeman and Peter Serafinowicz. View petition.
- A Canadian non-profit organization stood up against a usage-based Internet billing by petitioning Tony Clement, a member of the Canadian Parliament. Mr. Clement responded after over 1,700 tweets. View petition.
- A 15 year old girl won a radio station contest for a date with Justin Bieber. She was told she was too young, so she took her case to Twitter and inspired a staggering 1900+ tweets for a date with the pop star. We don't think she actually got the date, but she's over him now anyway. View petition
- Many notable petitions from large organizations like PETA, MoveOn, World Wrestling Entertainment, Courage Campaign, The Young Turks, NCLR, and Brave New Films.
In general, act.ly has lowered the barrier to activism. Anyone from moms to senators to rappers can start a firestorm in just a few minutes. It's also increased the stakes.
A single tweet might be easy to click, but it means a lot - a person is effectively standing up in a room full of everyone they know and taking a public stand. With one click, the target, the media, and all their friends see it. Contrast that with a traditional clipboard or email petition where the only people who know you signed it are the people the petition gatherer shows it to.
Act.ly has worked well with large corporations, and also when paired with a larger strategy of email and offline activism. It has not worked well so far in impacting elected leaders, particularly the U.S. Congress. Alas, it seems corporations care more about their customers than Congress does.
This feels like just the beginning, and we look forward to all the creative petitions you come up with.
We know there are more success stories that we don't know about. Tweet @actly and we'll add them here. Thank you!