ACLU's Latest (Pointless?) Internet Campaign

by: dmineau

Thu Aug 23, 2007 at 16:18

It looks like the ACLU has launched another pointless "successful" Internet based campaign.  "Successful" in that it will help them raise money and collect email addresses.  Pointless in that it likely won't actually help anything.

I noticed an Ad over at Talking Points Memo.  It was a flash ad, but I've captured the important frames so that you can get the idea.

ACLU ad 1
ACLU ad 2
ACLU ad 3
ACLU ad 4
ACLU ad 5

To be honest, I like the actual flash ad.  It gets the point of what happened, why it's bad, and offers a way to do something about it.  It properly puts pressure on Reid and Pelosi to DO something about it.  Finally, frames it as "restoring our constitution".  So, when I first saw it, I clicked the link.  That's when things went downhill...

First, it takes you to the following page.  https://secure.aclu....
On the page it lists the text with some more detail.

Care about Your Privacy? Care about FISA.

For five years, on presidential orders, the National Security Agency has been reading email and tapping phones without a warrant -- actions explicitly forbidden by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.

Despite this 30-year precedent, Congress and the president colluded in a rushed Patriot Act-style vote just before the 2007 summer recess. The resulting legislation lifts longstanding protections between government spying and Americans' international communications. This law now gives the NSA a blank check to wiretap Americans without judicial oversight.

We need a Congress that can stand up to the fear-mongering of an out-of-control administration. It's bad enough that our leaders have still failed to restore habeas corpus, end torture and rendition, and close the Guantanamo Bay prison. But now they've voted to expand a warrantless spying program they should be investigating and dismantling.

Finally, on the right hand side is a giant red button that says, "What You can do".  Again... going good.  Clicking on the button, then takes you to the next page.
On this page there are 3 red buttons to click on.  From left to right, your options.
"Sign the Petition: Don't fail freedom"
"Send an E-Card: Share the Ad, Share the Sheep"
and, (of course)
"Donate: Support our Work".

So, let's go over the three things i can do to help restore the constitution. 
1.  Donate to the ACLU.  I'm sure that'll be very effective.
2. Send a email form letter that Reid's and Pelosi's offices will promptly ignore, but not before the ACLU can harvest my email.  That's right, when you go to send the form letter there are 2 checkboxes, conveniently already marked for  you, to sign up for ACLU email lists. 
3. Send an email to a friend so that the ACLU can harvest both my email and my friends.

Now, if you actually do the only remotely useful thing(option 2, of course).  The ACLU harvests your email address and then takes you to the next page where it asks you to send the e-greeting to your friends.  Then, if you do that, it then takes you to another page giving you 2 MORE things you can do.  I took a screenshot, if you want to see.
Basically, it gives you 2 links.  The top one really intrigued me.  It said,

Support the ACLU to get our America back by keeping the pressure on Congress, mobilizing grassroots support in all 50 states and running ads to ensure we get the job done.

I thought it was organizing people and I could sign up to meet up with others.  However, clicking the link takes you too...(wait for it)  a FORM PAGE TO DONATE MONEY!!!
The Second link takes you to a page on the main ACLU site with facts and myths about FISA.  You can see that page here.

So, it really looks like this campaign isn't structured to actually "restore the constitution" it's designed more to harvest email addresses for their e-newsletters and to collect donations.

In closing, let me point out one more thing.  In case you don't agree with my conclusion.  Go to the ACLU homepage.  You'll notice that on the left side a picture and link for the "Sheep in Congress?" campaign.  At the Bottom of the picture it says, "get involved".  If you click the picture intending to get involved, guess where it takes you?  That's right it takes you directly to a form letter to donate to the ACLU.  I rest my case.

dmineau :: ACLU's Latest (Pointless?) Internet Campaign

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What would some good activities be? (0.00 / 0)
Just out of curiosity, what would you be willing to do?  I work for an organization that's always looking for ways to get people involved. Sometimes we lobby the legislature, ask our activists to write a letter or show up to an event.  Do you have some other ideas?

Other Ideas (0.00 / 0)
Well, there's a lot.  Emails, Phone Calls, perhaps a form letter that I can print and deliver via snail mail.  I don't think sending email is bad, but perhaps you could force people to not write a form letter so it's personal.

If there was a number I could call that would then connect me to my Senator, Rep, or etc.  That would be cool too.  Perhaps something that says what to say when I call could also help.

As far as locally.  I would be willing to get involved in a local rally\protest in front of a congressman\senator's home office.  Or a how-to on how to organize one.

A little tutorial and how-to on how to write a letter to the editor complete with contacts for my local paper.

There's a lot that could be done than a simple email form that looks like everyone elses.

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