DEMAND for TRANSPARENCY
I call on change.org to verify the authenticity of petition tallies and to publicly explain what measures they are taking to prevent the spamming and hacking of petitions. I also call on change.org to develop a policy which requires the organization to provide evidence and verification of errors before manually changing petition totals.
ALTERATION of PETITION TALLY
(See this petition for reference: www.change.org/demconvention)
Change.org is one of the largest online activism websites in the world. Since its launch in 2007 it has hosted thousands of petitions and impacted various real-life events. I started a petition on change.org on May 8, 2012, calling on the Democratic Party to move its annual convention from North Carolina. The petition quickly gathered thousands of signatures and was reported on by various media outlets (CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, Politico, Washington Examiner, USA Today etc).
I was interviewed by CNN on May 15, 2012, about the success of the petition and at that time the petition had gathered nearly 65,000 signatures (see interview here: http://youtu.be/2tRaS2zs2j8). By May 18 the petition had gathered 93,000 signatures.
On May 21, 2012, change.org contacted me to say their engineers had apparently detected en "error" with my petition that had allegedly allowed the spamming of 60,000 signatures on the petition. They insinuated that an error of this magnitude had never happened before. They subsequently modified the tally of the signature from 93,000 to 32.000 without providing any evidence or verifcation that such an error had occurred.
I find this disturbing on a number of levels:
(1) What is the likelihood that this has never happened before? How can we be sure that various other petitions haven't been spammed and hacked resulting in inflated totals and tallies?
(2) Should change.org have the right to manually alter the tally of a petition without providing any evidence or verification that an error occurred in the first place? How can the general public have confidence that the reason for the alteration wasn't driven or influenced by other types of factors such as political or financial influence?
(3) Why did it take change.org nearly 2 weeks to "detect" an "error" with my pariticular petition. If the petition was being spammed adding thousands of fake signatures, why was the change.org website not able to capture this misuse of their site at the time the misuse was occurring? Why did it take so long to act?