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3 min read - By Federico Álvarez

Social media is fueling social change

Information flows from digital platforms to Change.org, and back to digital platforms

Sometimes, when people feel sick, they look up their symptoms on Google. When people want to send a birthday greeting, they go to Facebook and post on their friend’s wall. When people want to share an idea, opinion, or experience, they broadcast moments on Instagram or connect with a friend through WhatsApp. And sometimes when people are looking for answers from their leaders and decision-makers, they start or sign a petition at Change.org.

In March 2020, when the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic, the Change.org platform hosted an unprecedented amount of website traffic, gathering thousands of new petitions and registering millions of signatures from all over the world. The upward trending curve of online engagement at Change.org looked very similar to other site traffic, particularly like those of Facebook, Netflix, and YouTube:

Source: The virus changed the way we use internet

According to Social Listening stats by Agility PR, “In the span of one month, over 19M mentions of COVID-19 were posted on social media and the web. The combined reach of these posts was over 3 trillion impressions.” As their report reads, each internet user (a proxy of 4.5 billion people worldwide) “was exposed to coronavirus-related information 686 times over one month”. (source)

Google searches for ‘change.org coronavirus’

From March 15th to March 28th, the world saw the ‘coronavirus’ term peak all over the Internet. Google Trends reported a maximum level of interest in the term. Meanwhile, social media stats (according to Awario) reported almost 16 million mentions. Surprisingly, those weeks also showed a peak for Google Trends of the terms “change.org coronavirus.”

During the week of March 22nd, more than 75% of the traffic to Change.org was coming from Facebook, WhatsApp, and other social media platforms such as Twitter or Instagram. And on that same week, more than 11 million people came from Facebook to Change.org to sign a petition–a record-breaking event for our website.

Sources of traffic on Change.org platform

It’s no doubt that the pandemic has heavily influenced how and why we use the Internet. With social distancing protocols and lockdowns all over the world, more people have gone online not only to seek entertainment, relief, or social interaction but also to seek positive social change. 

Written by – Federico Álvarez
Product Manager, Change.org Foundation