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4Change Logo.png

4Change [1] was a Facebook application which allows users to create online petitions for causes which they believe in. 4Change was different than other online petition sites. I designed the site for my company SocialView. I hired my friend as an independent contractor to build it for me. It was built October 2008 - March 2009.

After we built it, it never caught on. I did not invest more time into it and it slowly withered away.

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Power of Facebook

Because it is on Facebook, it leverages the power of the “social graph.” The term refers to the free flow of information between people and their friends. This is powerful, since on average, a Facebook user has 150 friends. These connections help spread the petition in a number of ways. First, a user can directly invite their friends to sign their petition. Second, with Facebook, a user who does not use 4Change will receive a notification when one of their friends signs a petition on 4Change. They may then feel compelled to read and sign the petition. Finally, 4Change provides a profile box which lists what causes a user supports. This is important because Facebook is all about people expressing themselves, including the causes which they believe in. All of these factors combined let the petition spread easily, creating large online communities, and more pressure for change to make one’s community better.

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In addition, 4Change allows the community to write the petitions. In the past, the petition owner would have to write the petition by himself. However 4Change borrows from Wikipedia in that we allow anyone to edit the petition text. The petition owner is not in the position of power – the petition belongs to the community and can grow and expand over time. Of course we need to balance the people may support certain language of the petition but not future revisions. I am currently thinking about this and I am trying to balance the pros and cons. To my knowledge no one has ever tried to bring a wiki to a petition, so 4Change is in uncharted waters.

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Signatures on petitions are also much more likely to be accurate. This is because you sign with your Facebook name, picture, and a link to your profile. You use your real name on Facebook. In addition, it is significantly harder to create fraudulent accounts. This puts a face on to online petitions. All of these factors combined increase the petition’s veraciousness, increasing the trust in the petition, and further improving real-life communities.

Print View

4Change also has a petition print view. This view contains the text of the petition, and a list of signatures with people’s real names and profile pictures in a format for easy printing. I even made sure to maximize the available space on the page in order to decrease paper usage. The printed sheets can then be presented to the organization capable of bringing the change you seek.