The ACLU’s Huge Weekend Donations Haul Shows Twitter Activism Can Work

Sia isn’t your average attention-hungry pop star. She often hides her face behind wigs and lets dancers take center stage when she performs. But on Saturday, she put herself in the middle of a national debate. A few hours after news spread that President Trump had signed an executive order to stop the admission of citizens from seven largely Muslim countries, Sia tweeted “help our queer & immigrant friends. send me your donation receipts for the @aclu & I will match up to $100K.”

Others—Rosie O’Donnell, Judd Apatow, Bleachers frontman Jack Antonoff—soon followed suit, each pledging to match people’s donations if they tweeted images of their contributions to the American Civil Liberties Union at them. Tech honchos like Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield and investor Chris Sacca joined as well. The result? In under 48 hours, the ACLU had received $24 million in online donations, far more even than the $7.2 million the organization received five days following Trump’s election, and around six times the organization’s average intake—per year.

While the ACLU’s total donations can’t all be attributed to a few high-profile tweets, they likely wouldn’t have reached such an eye-popping figure without them, either. More importantly, the efforts showed a way forward for celebs and other prominent online personas to translate a tweet into action.

Million Dollar March

The ACLU will likely need every cent. After President Trump signed the executive order stopping the admission of residents of Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Iran, Somalia, and Sudan for 90 days, more than 100 travelers from those nations were detained at US airports across the country. The ACLU and other legal defense groups argued the case late Saturday night, and US District Court Judge Ann M. Donnelly issued a stay preventing the detainees, many of them legal US residents, from being deported. The White House countered that the executive order stands. The legal challenges are only just beginning.

So, too, are the outcries from all corners of the tech and entertainment worlds. As O’Donnell and Antonoff were collecting and retweeting receipts, stars like Silicon Valley’s Kumail Nanjiani and Scandal’s Kerry Washington were tweeting their opposition to the executive order, many under the hashtag #MuslimBan. (President Trump argued that his order was not a ban on Muslims, but that didn’t stop the hashtag from gaining traction.)

By Sunday, protests to the executive order had popped up across the country, and corporations joined in. Ride-sharing service Lyft announced it would donate $1 million over four years to the ACLU, adding “we stand firmly against” Trump’s immigration ban. Google created a “crisis fund,” worth up to $4 million depending on matching donations from employees, that will go to the ACLU and three other immigration-centric organizations.

What sort of long-term effects these kinds of Twitter pledge drives will have is (obviously) unknown, but it’s compelling is how easily these maneuvers translated into concrete action. Instead of just tweeting a link and encouraging followers to donate, folks like Apatow and Sia used their own donating power to encourage others to pony up as well.

Some, like actor and former White House associate director of the Office of Public Engagement Kal Penn, even made it personal. While not part of the ACLU donations push, Penn started a donation page for Syrian refugees under the name of a person who trolled him online saying “you don’t belong in America.” As of this writing it had already amassed nearly $540,000.

If nothing else, these efforts may prove there’s a benefit for high-profile Twitter users to put their money where their fingers are. (Reps for O’Donnell, Apatow, Sia, and Antonoff did not respond to emails seeking comment.) Hey, it beats being called a slacktivist.

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source : https://www.wired.com/2017/01/aclu-donations-twitter-celebrities/

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