This news was too wild not to share.
Chinese hackers have temporarily brought down Change.org, the social action platform where I now direct immigrant rights organizing. This, after more than 90,000 people in 175 countries signed a petition calling for the release of internationally acclaimed Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.
According to Mashable:
As an artist, Ai is best known for his role in the construction of the Bejing National Stadium for the 2008 Olympics and his Sunflower Seeds exhibit at the Tate Modern in 2010. He has also played a role in uncovering government corruption over the past few years, including, most notably, a scandal involving the construction of Sichuan schools that collapsed during the 2008 earthquake.
Ai was taken into custody by police at an airport in Bejing earlier this month.
The petition has attracted more than 90,000 signatures, including many from leading museums such as the Guggenheim, MoMA and Tate Modern, since it was posted last week.
A Change.org spokesperson says that the site has suffered intense DDoS attacks since Monday, sending it offline for periods of time. At the time of writing, Change.org was still offline.
“There’s no evidence that this has come from the Chinese government, but clearly the circumstantial evidence is pretty powerful,” the spokesperson says, noting that the for-profit organization has called on the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of East Asian Pacific Affairs for assistance.
Change.org CEO Ben Rattray has even asked the State Department to intervene, as reported by Tech President earlier today:
“We've notified the U.S. State Department of the situation and asked for their immediate assistance,” Rattray added. “Our engineers have been able to keep up the site during parts of the attack, but we've had some down time and without government assistance there are limits to what we can do.”
Change.org, a platform which allows anyone, anywhere to launch online social action campaigns, has been blocked in China at various points over the last few years.
While my teammates at Change.org continue to fend off these severe cyberattacks, more and more activists continue to sign the online petition in support of artist and political prisoner Ai Weiwei.
The silver lining, of course, is that these hackers' attacks will only end up drawing more attention to Ai Weiwei's unjust imprisonment.