Act.ly is an application for creating a twitter petition. “Signing” the petition is as simple as tweeting or retweeting the petition. Each petition is targeted to an individual so the tweet shows up in their mentions every time it is retweeted. Anyone with a Twitter account can set up a petition, be petitioned, or sign a petition. Petitions may be serious or humorous.
Act.ly was created by 3dna, the team also behind NationBuilder. It was co-founded by Jim Gilliam and Jesse Haff as a tool for viral petitions. It has been used by politicians, rappers, nonprofit organizations, bloggers, and more. At the time of this review, it has 3,840 petitions, 170,164 tweets, and 402 responses to petitions.
Because so many people use Twitter, this application can be far-reaching in its efforts. Users just have to understand the process for use and that a retweet (RT) equals a signature.
After linking to Twitter, users are taken to a home page. They may start a petition, view petitions catching fire, who’s in the hot seat, or smokin’ recruiters. To start a petition, users simply enter the Twitter name of the person or organization they wish to draw attention to and what they think this person should do. Because the tweet has the person’s Twitter ID in it, they will automatically see all of the RTs in their timeline.
Once the information is entered, users review the default tweet. They may change it if they wish, and the application reminds the user what information MUST remain in the tweet. When satisfied, users may embed Youtube or Vimeo links and save the petition. Once tweeted, the petition goes live.
To post the petition on Facebook, Digg, delicious, reddit, myspace, stumbleupon, or to embed a tweet button, options are offered. Sharing is easy and can help make petitions go viral or at least attract more attention.
Act.ly will notify the user via DM if the person who was petitioned responds in any way to the petition. This is one of the most interesting aspects of the website. While many are simple, personal requests like “Go home for the weekend”, some are very thought provoking responses from public figures. Some responses appear to merely be retweets, so it is uncertain whether they actually read it or just saw “RT” and did it. Some, however are actually sincere responses from those who were petitioned, for example Senator Gillibrand responded to a petition about Big Oil and promised to vote to close their tax loopholes.
In one case, Senator Gillibrand herself started a petition directed at the US Secretary of Transportation to ask Florida Governor Rick Scott to redirect rejected funding to high-speed rail projects in NY. The Secretary of Transportation responded by dividing up the funds among 15 states.
It’s also interesting to see who is in the hot seat as far as the number of petitions. As expected, many are political figures, but Google, Twitter, and Bravo TV are also under fire for various reasons during this review.
Users must sign in with Twitter accounts and authorize the application. Act.ly cannot view direct messages or passwords with this authorization.
Act.ly is completely free to use.
Anyone who wishes to start a petition, uses Twitter regularly, and feels that they can build enough interest to get attention for their issues may choose to try Act.ly. Whether for celebrity interests, ecological issues, nonprofit interests, government requests, or even personal petitions, Act.ly is easy to use and just may get a response from someone you don’t expect.