Avaaz Uses Digital Mobilization The Give Millions A Voice

Avaaz is an online activist organization that takes on a variety of issues simultaneously. Over 47 million members in more than 190 countries can take action on one or more issues, including climate change, animal rights and corruption. By signing online petitions, people have a voice, which is why the petition for net neutrality with 2.8-million signatures impressed the European Parliament and won a victory for Avaaz.

People’s voices put pressure on world leaders to do the right thing. Established in 2007, Avaaz choose its name because Avaaz means voice in multiple languages. Three organizations and seven individuals founded the organization, including Oxford and Harvard-educated Ricken Patel, who is Avaaz’s CEO. Patel once volunteered at MoveOn.org, which is one of the organizations that co-founded Avaaz.

The wholly member-funded organization uses member polling to decide on priorities; no government or corporate sponsor affects the issues Avaaz tackles. At first, 10,000 members are polled to gauge interest, and then, if there is sufficient interest, all members can see the campaign and take part if they desire. Avaaz was the most members in France and Brazil; however, the New York City-based organization has ongoing campaigns in many countries.

Avaaz does more than submit online petitions to world leaders; they stage media-friendly protests. Before Mark Zuckerberg testified before the U.S. Senate, Avaaz paraded 100 life-size Zuckerberg cutouts on the Capitol lawn. The idea was to pressure Zuckerberg to ban fake Facebook accounts and disclose disinformation campaigns. Avaaz also employs sit-ins and rallies, generally only when the recipients ignore online petitions.

Another tactic Avaaz recently employed was to rent three white box trucks and paint a message aimed at Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. Avaaz wants to change Rubio’s stance on gun control and is using the movable signs to draw attention to the issue.

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