Online petitions

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Who do we hand our names and other information to is something we have to ask ourselves before we sign anything, I would advise.

AVAAZ, for instance, appears to have, as it has recently been claimed, links to some unsavory organizations belonging to a certain entity in the Middle East and with the possibilities of such connections one can but wonder as to how many of those groups that perpetually roll out this or that online petition they want us to put our name to are not in fact something more or have connections to something rather sinister.

Often such petitions are presented with big headlines to get people to sign when but with very little further information and without seeing both sides one should not simply add one's name to anything.

It was very much such a case when the British government, some years back, suggested to sale of some of the Forestry Commission forests to private forestry companies. The claim was that all the “state” forests were to be sold off and which would then be clear-felled for profit and left. No forestry company would ever work that way. But no one wanted to hear the counter argument.

Many petitions, whether from AVAAZ, or others, more often than not let the people that are asked to sign them know the full story behind something, I have found, but present just one side of the coin. One can thus often but wonder what traps are being set and thus my advice is: check all the facts before you sign anything and give away your data.

Furthermore, much like protest marches, demonstrations, vigils and all that stuff the question has to be as to what can or will be achieved with it. Regardless of number of signatures government can and will ignore anything at will. Democracy is but an illusion to keep the masses quiet.

The greatest concern we have to have, however, with online petitions, or any petitions where you have to give some personal information such as name, email address, and even physical address as to how such information is being used in the future and by whom. On what data base is your data and mine going to be stored and for what purpose is it going to be used?

We have to be much more discerning and instead of sitting on our backsides clicking and signing online petitions which may, or may not, be legit we should get down – up actually – to do some positive things, other than attending demonstrations, to make us feel real and connected to the things that matter.

However, most believe that they are doing good by signing such petitions and feel good after they have added their name to this or that list. “I have done something to change things” they believe. Really? Doing something to change things means actually doing something more than just signing your name and handing over certain information to the bottom of a petition. Doing something to make positive changes means getting out there and actually doing things – or even at home – and also learning from others and then teaching others too.

Clicktivism is not activism and will change nothing though it might get you onto some database the use of which we do not know. Thus, think before clicking and signing and rather look for true positive actions that will make a real change.

© 2014