Avaaz: the online community designed to help other communities.

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Currently boasting 42 million members in 194 different countries, Avaaz is an online campaigning organisation or community  that wants to drive political and social change for the better. The organisation is unique in how it is run, almost like a democracy.  “Each year, Avaaz sets overall priorities through all-member polls… only initiatives that find a strong response are taken to scale.” As a member of the Avaaz community, you also have the opportunity to propose issues you want to campaign against.

Due to the global reach of the internet, Avaaz has unified online activists to create a voice which is listened to. When Rupert Murdoch set out to further expand his media empire in the UK through buying BSkyB: Avaaz set up an opposing campaign which included “1 million online actions, 30,000 phone calls to MPs and a critical 40,000 submissions into the Government consultation on the BSkyB deal.” As a response to the Cyclone Nargis causing devastation in Burma: “in just ten days, over 25,000 people from 125 countries donated 2 million to support the monks’ relief efforts.”

It could be argued that because the Avaaz community is spread so far across the world, it’s members are limited to signing a petition or making donations. Also, an online community cannot compete with a group unified by more traditional campaigning methods such as direct action. However, in a community this vast in size, each small act of slacktivism is combined to truly make a difference. The website is effective in flagging social or political issues which would otherwise go under the radar.

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