Challenge

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How Do You Generate Over 6,000 Phone Calls Per  Hour To Impact Legislation?

In November of 2011, Congress was debating two bills that could establish the first institutionalized censorship of the Internet in the US. The Protect-IP Act and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) were meant to fight foreign websites dedicated to copyright infringement or counterfeiting.  But in practice, they would provide corporations broad powers to shut down web content sites that they didn’t like.

In response, an array of Internet companies like Facebook, Google, AOL, Twitter, and many, many more expressed their opposition – including in an open letter to Congress.

The blogging platform Tumblr wanted to join the fight for Internet freedom – but they also wanted to give ordinary net citizens the power to take a stand and influence legislative opinion.

Solution

A Mobile Call-In Campaign That Connected Netizens Directly to Their US Representatives

In a powerful statement against censorship, Tumblr blacked out all the text on every user’s Tumblr dashboard. Users were then directed to the Tumblr site, Protect The Net, where they could learn more about the bills and why it was important to take a stand.

Tumblr then used Mobile Commons’ mConnect application to directly connect any concerned citizen with their local Representative – giving them the opportunity to directly influence the legislative debate.

The process was simple:

  • People entered their phone number and address in a web form on the Protect the Net page
  • They were immediately called at that telephone by the mConnect system.
  • Once they answered, people heard an automated message from Tumblr founder David Karp, reminding them of the key talking points to communicate to their Representatives
  • People were then connected with their Representatives, as determined by the address they submitted

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Results

An Outpouring of Support And Press Attention

In just 14 hours, Tumblr’s mConnect generated 87,834 calls to representatives – over 6200 calls an hour. That translated into 1,293 hours of advocacy. At one point, users were averaging 3.6 calls/person.

Tumblr also made the media sit up and take notice. Writers from TechCrunch to Mashable to Forbes to PBS praised the campaign and the vital attention it brought to the censorship issue. The story topped both Techmeme and the Hacker News.

We can only wait and see whether or not SOPA is passed. But, either way, Tumblr has given tens of thousands of people an opportunity to directly express their political opinions.

“We … want to express our tremendous gratitude to our friends at Mobile Commons, who on 30 minutes notice, hooked us up with their amazing platform (and provided their expertise) to automatically connect callers with their Representatives.” Tumblr CEO David Karp said. “You guys rock!”