Web 2.0 'Clicktivism' for Social Good with Avaaz

Web 2.0 has given birth to the internet campaigning phenomenon, which has shown us all what kind of world community it is possible to create change and has given rise to campaigning groups like, Avaaz, which means ‘voice’ in several European, Middle Eastern and Asian languages. It aims to empower people globally to take action on pressing international, regional and national issues, from banning cluster munitions, stopping a woman being stoned to death in Iran, protecting the oceans and calling on chocolate companies to boycott the Ivory Coast until Laurent Gbagbo steps down. Avaaz's online community acts like a megaphone calling attention to new issues and its model of internet organising allows the efforts of individuals to be combined into a powerful collective force.

Avaaz allows in just one easy web 2.0 click your support and within days 800,000 people are calling on the US and the EU to ban a pesticide they have probably never heard of, but that kills bees, which in turn endangers the ecosystem. There are voices who like Malcolm Gladwell, in the New Yorker last year who say that this kind of ‘clicktivism’ is a shallow form of protest compared with the protests and marches of famous campaigns from history. However, groups like Avaaz, allows people to get engaged and make a difference without any inconveniences. In fact Avaaz has found the same under lying factor again and again, which is that people who join the community through a campaign on one issue go on to take action on another issue, and then another. What makes Avaaz's different and a success is its web 2.0 accountability model where each potential campaign is trialled on a sample of a few thousand members before it goes live and if there is low take-up, it is dropped. So, crucially, Avaaz responds to its members as much as it informs and leads them.

For example, last year Avaaz supported Ecpat, a small British charity that fights child trafficking and abuse. It got behind Ecpat’s campaign to get the Hilton hotel chain to sign a basic code of conduct to train its staff to end possible abuse in its hotels. A treaty that the Hilton group refused to sign till Avaaz came along...Avaaz announced that instead of delivering the petition to the company headquarters, it would instead put up billboards in the CEO’s home town and link the CEO’s professional responsibility for a big business with their own personal responsibility of being accountable as a fellow human citizen. It worked! A week and 310,000 signatures later, the Hilton group signed before the billboards went up.

One innovative web 2.0 function that the Avaaz website has is that you are able to see the names of signatories who support a particular campaign - "John from the US, Shirley from London and Raj from India. All strangers in reality, but united in their mission in real web 2.0 time to make a difference.

Photo Credit: Avvaz Website