There are hundreds of thousands of apps available. The old advertising slogan, “there’s an app for that” is more true than many realize. A person or a group realizes and defines a need, and voila! An app is created!
So, it should come as no surprise that there are petition apps available, n fact, three of them – that human rights activists can use to build awareness and to take action on various issues. All are from the iTunes Store and are described on App Appeal. (There were none found for either BlackBerry or Android.) The three are Change.org, iPetitions and Act.ly. All are free, although two do offer more specialized services for a small subscription fee.
The first of these, Change.org, calls itself an online petition tool. It says that petitions created can be promoted online and shared through social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. There is also a “petition widget” that users can place on any website or weblog, which allows that user to promote the petition and draw attention to it. In the words of the website, “the petition becomes a tool to raise awareness of the issue and encourage those responsible to make a change for the better.”
Next is iPetitions, the “Free Online Petition Builder.” Its users can create petitions from scratch or take a look at sample existing one. Almost all of the same features as Change.org are also found here as well.
The last is Act.ly, with which users can create and circulate a petition on Twitter. Tweeting or Retweeting it has the same effect as signing. To set it up, users link to Twitter, and a home page appears. A petition can be started or a Hot List can be viewed of popular ones. To create a petition and begin circulating it, begin by entering the Twitter name of the person or organization the user wants to bring attention to, as well as what activity they’d like from the subject.
Once tweeted, the petition is live. Act.ly will notify the user if the petitioned subject responds in any way. The website says this is one of the most interesting aspects of the app. While many responses are simple, some are very thought provoking responses from public figures. Some responses appear to be just re-tweets, as there’s no way of knowing if the message was actually read or the person just saw an “RT” and did that. The site gives an example of a US Senator who responded to a petition about oil companies by promising to vote in favor of closing their tax loopholes.
So, to whom would one recommend this application?
Anyone who wants to make a change, uses Twitter (or wants to begin), wishes to start a petition, and believes that perhaps a different method of making that social change happen might work better (or would be great to work with in conjunction) various current activism methods.
Apps for mobile devices have proven that they can do many things. Bringing about social change wouldn’t seem to out of reach!