What is happening to Change.org and other organizations should worry all of us. With venture capitalists buzzing around these organizations waiting to put money and effort into buying the grassroots, Change.org appears to have decided it's too much trouble to make a decision about whether or not sponsored campaigns should be accepted from organizations doing evil to progressive causes, like Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst did earlier this year.
Jeff Bryant wrote a post for the Campaign for America's Future aptly entitled "Change.Org, Enabler Of Davids, Decides To Side With Goliaths Instead", exposing the decisions Change.org launched on Monday. They had not planned to actually tell their progressive clients they were moving in this direction, preferring to roll things out and then deal one on one with any complaints. However, someone leaked the internal documents to Jeff, who then published them along with his post.
According to the new policies, the social action platform will now be open to companies and corporations of any size, political parties, "front groups," and "astroturf" organizations. Only advertisers strictly identified as "hate groups" are to be barred.
According to a Change.org document "Rebrand-Internal FAQs," the more than 20 million users of the platform will not notice dramatic changes to the site. They will see "a new visual look" and "updated language on the About Us" and other boilerplate pages. And users will be able to submit petitions as they have done in the past.
But wait, there's even more.
What will change is that Change.org will no longer "filter potential advertisers" based on the advertisers' "values." Nor will Change.org filter potential advertisers based on any "gut feelings about the content of the ad itself."A different document, "Change.org Advertising Guidelines," provides more detail about the new policies, including that ads can't "promote hate, violence or discrimination… promote bullying, harassment, or intimidation… use or promote hate speech… discriminate against an organization, person, or protected group." Also, "Ads cannot contain inaccurate or deceitful content."
According to the Huffington Post, these new policies came about after the furor over Rhee's StudentsFirst organization putting up misleading petitions in order to harvest email addresses.