#India- Open letter to #BenRattray, #CEO, #Change.org – “Et tu Brutus” #kracktivism


Dear Ben Rattray

You  started  change.org ,to change  the world, you did made an impact on social change in last five years,in US. In the developing world especially in India , there was mutli-fold increase in petitions, in last one year. So what was different about change, which made it so popular?  The fact it was a business model, which was entering social change with a very transparent and accountable agenda . You are not a non profit organisation claiming anything, true, but you were  representing a progressive community fighting for social justice and change, fighting for human rights of people across the globe. You were using the power of business for social good. Also the fact that each petition was checked and there was a coordination between offline protest , campaigns and the online petition.

I invested  my time at change.org  by  creating many  human rights and petitions on change.org in past one year. There have been  small victories  Paypal apologises. There have been some big victories ,Family Matters taken away from Justice Bhaktavatsala, Amnesty International intervenes to Free Waqar, The Kashmiri YouthFreedom for Arun Ferreira behind bars for 4 years under draconian laws  , and some still continue to create impact like the petition for a  To Save Soni Sori and Punish Chhattisgarh Police & has had impact for international mobilization .

I have closely worked with change.org team on  many petitions, and also guided them  time and again on some other petitions as well, as I strongly believed ,in the fact, that they had taken a stand for social justice and human rights.  Change.org, meant business, yes business to take stand for  human rights . I  used to laugh at some of the inane petitions, which were totally ridiculous e.g. homophobic, anti abortion petition, as I  was sure change.org will not give any support, neither a push and the petition will die its own death. But your decision to change your advertising policy in the name of  openness, democracy and empowerment is nothing more than a facade. There was a certain element of  trust which has been broken  by the new changes in your advertising policy. Change.org  built its reputation on arming Davids to take on the Goliaths, now it seems that you think David and Goliath should be on the same team.

After reading the leaked documents, I was very disturbed and angry and asked the change.org team in India about it and I got the following email, by country head of change.org in India on Oct 25th 2012

 Hi Kamayani,

 as you are one of our most active users I wanted to reach out to you to clarify things in light of the Huffington Post and other pieces regarding our advertising guidelines.

Change.org’s mission is to empower people everywhere to create the change they want to see. Our vision is a world in which no one is powerless and making change is a part of daily life.

We believe the best way to achieve this is to have a platform that is truly open (like a true democracy) to all points of view as long as they don’t violate our terms of service – eg: hateful, violent, fraudulent etc. (full details here http://www.change.org/en-IN/about/terms-of-service).

We’re also extending this to our advertisers as long as they do not violate advertising guidelines http://www.change.org/en-IN/about/advertising-guidelines

This is the same yardstick that every tech platform uses – from FB and Google to Huffington Post itself.

 Finally, I would encourage you to read the leaked document as it serves as it clearly explains our position on a number of questions that people might have. It is not as dramatic as the HuffPo article :)

I hope that clarifies. Please let me know if you have further questions.

Cheers,

Avijit

I have read all internal documents word by word, the fact remains you did not plan  to  reach  to me and many other progressive users about the change you were going to embark upon. What these leaked documents revealed goes much beyond that, inclusive of embracing those who want to work against those very causes.  This part of internal document which  I produce below  proves  how your are turning from left to right . How will  you  justify while accepting paid promotions from conservative organizations. After all, conservatives don’t want change. That’s a progressive value. Conservatives want things to remain  the same. Corporations don’t have to run successful campaigns on Change.org in order to defeat the good that’s been done. All they have to do is pay to run so many petitions that current users dislike to get those users to go away or simply stop opening e-mails about petitions.

The full internal Faqs are available here-rebrand-internalfaqs-change.pdf

Your Article in HuffiiPost on Oct 25 also has nothing new  to add to the understanding at all  . In the name of openness now you say YES to-Republican campaigns, soon  I will find a campaign to endorse a legitimate rape ,  Astroturfing campaigns, Corporations.  About Hate groups – you say If a large organization like the The Southern Poverty Law Center( SPLC )says they’re a hate group its a NO , but otherwise yes. For change.org -Anti-abortion, Pro-gun, Union-busting, Animal cruelty is Yes. and you say “We are open to organizations that represent all points of view, including those with which we personally (and strongly) disagree.

Your advertising policy shift demonstrates the potential perils of for-profit companies founded on progressive values, and shows the power of money . You have literally betrayed all the active users of change.org, including me and taken advantage of our issues and petitions for increasing your own database. As a business and a company   you have every right to pivot and change  your brand  positioning. However, under the garb of ‘   you are actually helping further the work of those who we are working to organize against. For eg – with  this new Change.org openness, now anyone is eligible to advertise with you for profit. So after I sign a petition for gay rights, women’s rights and all of the other human rights issues, I might find a link to a sponsored petition that  I wasn’t expecting. Stop  Gay Marriages ! Give Legal recognition to Khap Panchayats !   Legalise ‘ Legitimate Rape ” !  Women should stop wearing skirts !

Its a big thanks to the Whistle -blower who leaked the documents for opening our eyes, and  you fire him from work, Wow, that’s very  Ethical, and you do not mention this at all in your article . Is  it change.org’s  policy not to discuss internal matters even if they are public  . I must say, and the fact we are having a debate, is because of him or her , and my eternal gratitude to the concerned person .

You used to call the non-profits who have spent millions to  support  you succeed “partners”, and now you call them “advertisers”. Nice attempt to make it sound like these were simply commercial transactions.   You make it sound like selling names to the radical right is a grand vision for ‘empowerment’”. Since when is suppressing the rights of women, ‘empowerment’? That’s not a grand vision for good. That’s a grand vision for greed. It’s genius, but let’s be clear. It’s not change. It’s just doubling-down on conflict—clickable, lucrative, conflict-mongering—and calling it a business model. Isn’t selling opt- ins (a user opts in with an email addresses when they sign a petition) to anti-women or anti-gay organizations a corrupt act no matter how you sugar coat it?  With a very liberal base of users on your sight. Your claim that you’ve simply grown too big to devote the necessary time to check out each petition is a betrayal of your origin, which was based on making this a voice for the voiceless,  for those who couldn’t make themselves heard elsewhere over the money. What’s changed  ? You seem to have eliminated change in favor of more of the usual. You may not think that you’re selling out, but at  you’ve made a Faustian deal.

Its  time to bid good bye, and I do so  with by my last petition addressed to you only, to reinstate the Whistle- Blower and come out . I will not be participating in change.org petitions  from now, but  I will definitely will be watching you , as you say in your article

“If it’s still not clear to you which version is accurate, I’d ask you consider suspending final judgment until you see the impact of our actions once the heat of the rhetoric subsides. Because while the impact that Change.org users have had around the world has been growing rapidly, we’re just getting started. And we’d love to work together to change the world.”

It’s very  clear to me where you are heading, and there is no confusion , now you are not a business for a social cause but  like any for profit , you are making money on our database .

Was a change.org petitioner organizer in India

Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Mumbai

28TH October, 2012

“You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train.” #change.org #mustread


Director, SignOn.org, the MoveOn.org petition site

Posted: 10/23/2012 6:42 pm

 

That classic quote from Howard Zinn came to mind this morning as I was thinking about the recent news about Change.org. It’s a line Zinn started using in the 1960s to challenge his students to get involved in the civil rights movement.

History, he said, is like a moving train. You can’t ride the train and then say you have no idea how you arrived at your destination. You’re either on board or not — you can’t be neutral.

Yesterday, The Huffington Post’s Ryan Grim reported that Change.org would begin selling advertising space to any customer, including promoting right-wing petitions paid for by corporate clients. From now on, they say, they’ll be neutral.

This has led to a lot of soul-searching in the movement — and a lot of questions about SignOn.org, the online petition site that I help run and that was created by MoveOn.org. So I wanted to take this chance not to criticize others, but to explain our choices, our vision.

First, like Change.org, we at SignOn.org see the enormous, game-changing potential of giving regular folks the tools they need to run their own online campaigns.

Over the years, MoveOn has listened to our members and run incredible campaigns giving our members smart, timely ways to get involved.

But there were so many fights MoveOn couldn’t take on. Just in my own community in Maine we have a growing homeless population, schools that need money, sewage runoff polluting the beaches, and so much more.

And after the 2010 election, the rise of the tea party, and Citizens United, we realized that what we were doing wasn’t enough. So we set out to re-invent people-powered politics by tapping into the passion and leadership of our seven million members to run hundreds more campaigns than we could ever take on before.

MoveOn launched SignOn.org about 18 months ago, and already tens of thousands of people have started petitions and many of them have scored amazing victories.

Robert Applebaum, an attorney in New York, started a SignOn.org petition calling for student loan forgiveness and it spread quickly, gathering more than a million signatures. Then, something amazing happened. President Obama responded — not with a form letter, but with an actual change in policy that will lower student loan payments for more than 1.6 million people.

When religious conservatives in Utah tried to pass a bill banning sex education in public schools, over 40,000 Utahns signed a petition urging the governor to veto the bill — and he did. The petition was started by Paul Krueger, a school bus driver and retired firefighter, who was quoted in the news coverage as saying, “I’ve never done anything like this, and it’s kind of amazing how fast this took off.”

And when Delaware Governor Jack Markell was considering supporting weak rules for fracking in the region, John Kowalko started a petition on SignOn.org urging the governor to vote no. After more than 1,000 signatures and a wave of media coverage, Gov. Markell came out against the rules, protecting drinking water for more than 15 million people.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, and the movement is growing every day.

So how is this different from Change.org? First, SignOn.org is non-profit and proudly progressive. Our goal is to make America live up to our best progressive ideals as a nation. We don’t answer to shareholders; we answer to our members — seven million Americans who share a commitment to making our country better through collective action. We will never, ever, ever give right-wing front groups a channel for co-opting our members’ organizing.

Second, we never, ever let anyone pay us to promote their campaign. If MoveOn asks you to sign a petition, you don’t have to wonder if it’s because someone paid us to. We trust our members to decide which campaigns to promote, and their judgment has been impeccable.

Third, we built SignOn.org to empower long-term organizing. Petitions are great, but most of the time it takes an ongoing campaign to win real change. So we want SignOn.org petition creators to send regular email updates to the MoveOn members who sign their petitions, and our toolset provides unlimited, free access to do so.

In short, we take sides, and we’re proud of it. We’re for economic justice, equality for women and LGBT individuals, ending poverty, racial justice, quality education for all, a clean environment, and peace. Because like Howard Zinn said, you can’t be neutral on a moving train.

 

Karnataka HC Judge Finds Wife Bashing Acceptable; Draws Flak


By IBTimes Staff Reporter | September 6, 2012

In an outlandish opinion of domestic violence in India, a Karnataka High Court judge reportedly said that a husband bashing the wife is acceptable as long as he takes good care of her.

Justice Bhaktavatsala has come under intense criticism for his so-called sexist remarks in a divorce case. An online campaign has been launched against him and online protesters have sought the Chief Justice of Karnataka to take serious action against Bhaktavatsala besides having him removed from his post.

More than 500 people have signed an online petition supporting the activists demand for striping Bhaktavatsala off his Justice position. An activists in their petition said, “The comments made by Justice Bhaktavatsala in various domestic violence and divorce court proceedings  recently are perpetuating the myth of patriarchy and his opinions going beyond the legal scope..”

“The judges are supposed to protect and enforce human rights of the citizens, but here we have a judge who is against women rights and even encouraging them to continue to stay in a violent relationship. Such views are retrograde and against the tenets of the Constitution of India,” the petition read.

The High Court judge reportedly made it worse by suggesting the woman to ask whether her father didn’t resort to beating her mother. “Ask your father if he has never beaten your mother!”

Each blow from Bhaktavatsala was painful than the other, until he concluded by asking the woman petitioner to “adjust” to her condition keeping her children’s future in mind.

Going by the content in online petition, Bhaktavatsala seems to have had allegedly given similar advices to couples who seek divorce for several reasons.

According to the activists, when a woman sought divorce from her husband on grounds of domestic violence, Justice Bhaktavatsala counsels the petitioner to endure the barbaric treatment in a bid to keep the family intact.

“Women suffer in all marriages. You are married with two children, and know what it means to suffer as a woman. Yesterday, there was a techie couple who reconciled for the sake of their child. Your husband is doing good business, he will take care of you. Why are you still talking about his beatings? I know you have undergone pain. But that is nothing in front of what you undergo as a woman. I have not undergone such pain. But madam (Justice BS Indrakala) has,” the online petition explained Justice Bhaktavatsala suggestion.