#India – Change.org : Campaign Victory’s exposed #Vaw #Socialmedia


Kamayani Bali Mahabal, April 23 2013 , Kracktivism

l 23, 2013, Kractivism

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

Just to give a background to those, who are reading about change.org for first time. It’s a popular and fast-growing website for petitions. In the last  two years, Change.org 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 dot.org domain name to its declaration that “our business is social good” to its certification as a B Corporation, Change.org 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  change.org.

So here is an expose of monitoring  campaigns of change.org in India

 In India   we have two petitions being  hosted on change.org, 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

nalsar

And on the other hand, we also have change.org 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

andhra

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

Wait a minute,

whoever wins or loses,

 it’s a Win- Win situation for change.org.

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 change.org .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 change.org

Change.org’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 Change.org’s business model comes into play. Change.org 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, Change.org 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.”

Change.org 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 change.org,

It’s  time ….

If you’re a member at Change.org 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 Change.org 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 🙂

The (Auto) Rakshasa and the Citizen


June 14, 2012

A petition from an organization called Change India invaded my Facebook wall today right before – rather ironically, it turns out— my morning auto ride. The petition is filed under a category on the site called “petitions for economic justice.” When you open it, the image pasted below opens. A sharp fanged, dark skinned “auto-rakshasa” demands one-and-a-half fare. The commuter is “harassed.” The petition that accompanies this image urges the ACP of police to create “an efficient system” so that complaints made to report auto-drivers who overcharge or refuse to ply can be tracked. How, it asks, can “concerned Bangalorean citizens” expect “justice” if their complaints are not tracked?  We all must, it urges, “join the fight.”

Image

Let me first say quite clearly that I do not mean to undermine the intentions and frustrations of those who launched this campaign and, yes, when the meter goes on without asking, it eases a morning commute significantly. The question is: if this does not happen at times (and indeed it doesn’t) then why is this so and what does one do about it? There is a lot to be said about the economics of the issue itself and I welcome others reading who know more to write about it more extensively. But this piece is not about that. It is about the campaign itself and how we articulate political questions in our cities. It is fundamentally about the easy, unremarked way in which a working urban resident and citizen – who is also, after all, a “fellow Bangalorean” and concerned with “economic justice”– can be termed and portrayed a “rakshasa” as if it were a banal utterance.

 

Our urban institutions don’t, in many ways, work. We know this, the poor have always known it and it seems to be the newly discovered ire of elite politics. We complain, the petition says, and “no action” is taken. This complaint is not unique to this campaign or to the elite. The narrative commonly told about our cities today is in terms of “failure” and “illegality” whether it is dysfunctional institutions, corruption, broken infrastructure or slums. I am not contesting these failures or the anger of the petition writers at it. There is, however, a “but.” It is, put bluntly, this: not all institutional failures are the same, not all crimes are equal and not all illegalities lead to the same consequences. Protesting against them without taking this into account is not just ineffective, it is deeply unjust. Let me take an example from housing. Rich people who build illegal houses make “farmhouses” and “unauthorized colonies.” Poor people who do the same make “slums.” In a campaign against “illegality,” only one of them gets demolished. Only one is called an “encroacher” and a “pickpocket.” Only one of them can be a “rakshasa,” the other gets to be a “citizen.”

But, the campaign writers may rightly say: “We are not against autodrivers – it is about complaining against those that overcharge.” Does then a campaign’s representation, these words, this cartoon (ahem) really matter that much? It does. These imaginations, names, words and aesthetics alter, narrow and limit urban politics. You cannot see a rakshasa as another citizen who lives in your city. There was an alternate way to run this campaign: to sit with associations and unions of auto-drivers and come to an agreement. To find out if auto fares are reasonable, high or low. To figure out community mechanisms to prevent non-metred travel. To, if that’s what came out of the engagement, support campaigns for metre fare increases as inflation, prices and petrol/gas increase. To work out a periodic shock-absorption surcharge for periods with very high gas prices. To find out why it costs four times as much to own and register an auto than a Tata Nano. To find out what the daily rental of the auto-driver is that he is trying to make in his twelve hour shift. To figure out why his fares are regulated though the rental he pays isn’t. To consider, quite simply, the auto-driver as a person and a citizen rather than a criminal or a rakshasa. To find out how the institutions the petition is angry at have failed him just as much and, most likely, with much deeper consequences.

Instead this campaign pits “concerned citizens” against “autodrivers” that are, as the image suggests, always already criminal. It repeats the mistake of multiple recent middle-class campaigns for “economic justice” and “social change.” These campaigns increasingly target a particular set of issues –for example, corruption or security – that should concern all of us but because of the way they are defined and articulated instead exclude what is a majority of our urban citizens.

Where do such images come from? Let me trace just one possible thread. In another context, Leela Fernandes has argued that Indian cities are defined by a “new urban aesthetic of class purity.” She was referring to new forms of elite built environments from streets cleared of the poor, gated communities and enclosed malls, and parks where one can walk and play but not sleep and work. Yet this aesthetic doesn’t just manifest itself in the built environment – it is part of an elite urban politics that cannot imagine the poor as fellow citizens. Elite and middle-class campaigns thus become something altered– they are reduced to the protection of what Fernandes calls a “lifestyle.” Not the Right to Life, but the Right to Lifestyle. In the protection of this lifestyle, the working poor cannot exist as fellow citizens with rights and dignities. Their concerns cannot be part of the conversation. They are “rakshasas” that take resources from the state, are the sole reason for public debt, encroach on public land, burden athe government for “handouts,” and pollute and dirty the city just as they take hard-earned tax money taken away from its rightful heirs.

The responses that these campaigns seek can understand “economic justice” only in the form of punitive and disciplinary punishment for the always already criminal poor. In this particular campaign, the only possible result is a deeper surveillance and harassment of auto-drivers by law enforcement – no other interaction is possible, no other solution is conceived. Herein lies the tragedy. What is this campaign fundamentally meant to be about? It is about what happens to a complaint made to a public institution about a service. It could relate then to other, larger campaigns about getting public institutions to work and be accountable to all parts of what makes our urban public. The autodriver is as interested in this question as you or I yet he is excluded, in this frame, from asking it. Worse, he is held responsible for it.

Read more at Kafila

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