Under the topic “Social Media for Social Good” I chose to research the subject of Online Petitions and their effectiveness.
I chose Online Petitioning because I was always familiar with the process of signing online petitions and often find myself joining online social justice media movements for the greater good as signing online petitions is quick and simple and speaking on a global level, every little helps. But I never questioned its effectivity or what happened after I signed. I wanted to research had many online petitions changed certain government legislation and helped shape the future, and essentially, what happens after I sign.
I would sometimes get emails a while after I signed that would inform me that the petition was a success, a certain bill or piece of legislation had been delayed or even abolished, but I never read up on them fully. I decided to use this study as an opportunity to explore the workings of online petitions fully and the changes they have made in society.
I found many different aspects of online petitioning during the course of my research that I never considered before and I found the entire topic very interesting. An aspect of online petitioning that I never considered was how they were perceived by the public and what are the downsides of online petitioning. I was familiar with the concept of ‘slacktivism’ which claims that signing online petitions does more to support the ego of the individual that signed it, believing that they changed the world with a ‘point and click’, than it did to support the actual cause.
I also looked at the role of online petitions in web campaigning and how governments use online petitions to enhance citizen participation in parliament and democratic processes as they have found it to be the efficient and simple. A paper that I studied looked specifically at how online petitioning has been used in EU policy making.
I took this opportunity to read up on past online petitions, analysing it from start to finish. What was the initiative, how was the petition promoted in order to gather as much support as possible, was it a success overall, did they achieve the desired amount of signatures to attain their goal and what was the aftermath of the petition’s success/failure.
I enjoyed researching this topic in depth because I found it really interesting and actually count myself quite lucky to have been able to use this opportunity to explore further a topic I found interesting as part of my coursework.