Stop Change.org from falsely attributing petitions in inadvertently-shared posts.
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People invite others to go to a petition on Change.org and sign it. This is fine. However, Change.org has a tiny easy-to-miss check box which is by default ticked, which causes an automatic system to create a post on Facebook. Many people are then surprised to see that they have 'shared' the petition on their Facebook page. They should never be surprised this way. Such an action should always be something that a person consciously chooses. There is significant potential for embarrassment.
Possibly worse than this automatic 'sharing' of a petition, which announces to the world that a person has signed a petition, is that the post on Facebook falsely and immorally attributes the petition to the person who has just signed the petition. To the 'friends' of the signatory on Facebook, it appears that the petition was the creation of the signatory. The standard wording of the headline of the post is "Help [signatory's name] get more signatures".
Further compounding the falsehood, anything that the signatory wrote in the box which is labelled "Add a personal message (optional)" is then posted in the automatically-created 'share' which adds to the powerful illusion that the petition was created by the signatory. No warning is given on the Change.org website that the words might be misused in this way. This is immoral.
The demands are simple and reasonable.
1. Change.org should redesign its pages such that the check-box for sharing on Facebook is NOT by default checked, making this an opt-in, not an opt-out. Because it would be an opt-in, it could be made bigger and clearer without harm.
2. The standard wording of the automatically-generated posts should simply state the facts, and not be designed to pass off a petition as the work of the signatory. The headline wording should read something like "[Signatory's name] has signed this petition."
3. When a signatory checks the box to opt-in to 'share' the petition on Facebook, then the use of the personal message as text to accompany the post should be offered as an opt-in. Many people are angry, frivolous, or careless when typing such messages, and would accordingly not want the words they wrote posted for all their Facebook friends to see. That the message might be used in this way must be made very clear. No one should be made to declare things in public that they do not choose to declare.
Change.org may feel that in the short-term, its current website design is an aid to getting more signatures for causes (most of which are presumably good or intended to be good), however, this does not create a licence for mendacity of this nature, which in the long-term may degrade the site's effectiveness, as it gains a reputation for putting unintended words in people's mouths, and misleading signatory's and the Facebook friends of signatories. In the long-term, truth and fair dealing are the best policies.
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