If you’re anything like us, you regularly look for ways to support wildlife, and you’ve probably come across a petition or two.
In fact, petitions regularly pop up in my Facebook feed. I sometimes sign them but I often wonder if I should. Does signing a petition really make a difference? Is the petition legitimate? Should I be worried about fraud? Let’s find out!
DOES SIGNING A PETITION MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
Petitions can be a valuable tool when advocating for change. In the digital world in which we live, you are more likely to encounter an online petition than someone with a pen and a clipboard. But are they useful? A petition can positively impact legislation and public opinion. Plus the help to gain media attention. Look at what happened when over 20,000 people signed a petition to stop a coyote killing contest in New York. It was cancelled!
HOW DO I KNOW IF A PETITION IS VALID?
When you come across four or five petitions each day, it feels like overload, and it can be difficult to discern a valid petition for one phishing for personal information. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before signing:
- Who’s sponsoring this petition? Is it an organization I trust?
- Is the change the petition suggests something that can be accomplished? Stopping all hunting worldwide would not be likely, but implementing guidelines related to specific species is an attainable goal.
- How important is this cause for you? Once you sign a petition, you may be contacted to do more. You could be asked to donate money or become a vocal activist in your area.
HOW TO SPOT A “FAKE” PETITION?
Note that there have been a few instances of phishing scams that imitated legitimate organizations. When in doubt, go to the organization’s website as the link to the petition should also be found there.
- Watch out for spelling and grammar issues or poor use of English.
- Check that the website is a site with which you are familiar.
- Do a cross-check on Google.
- Watch out for petitions that require you to give too much information. Most valid petitions only require your name, address and signature.
ACTION STEPS YOU CAN TAKE?
- Take a few minutes to research any new petitions that you come across.
- Avoid sharing petitions if you aren’t certain of their origin.
- Start your own petition for a cause important to you. We like the site https://www.care2.com/.