Blog Post

Crowdsourcing Celebrities

Crowdsourcing Celebrities

This article focuses on the massive donations received by the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) following Trump’s executive order on immigration. The ACLU received $24 million in online donations in under 48 hours following the announcements, compared to “the $7.2 million the organization received five days following Trump’s election.” The amount is also reportedly six times more than what the organization usually receives in donations per year.

The article explains that this staggering amount of support was in part due to a number of celebrities, including Sia and Rosie O’Donnell, posting on Twitter that if people tweeted them their donation receipts, they would match those donations with a donation of their own up to a certain amount. This is a clear demonstration of the power of social media to function in relation to issues of social justice: digital activism, in other words.

However, I also wonder if these donations and those celebrity tweets were a form of crowdsourcing. We broadly defined in class that crowdsourcing is the use of the public to reach a particular goal, and in this case, I feel that celebrities called upon their follows and the general public to help contribute to their objective of donating to the ACLU. I don’t think I quite realized that crowdsourcing could be such an impromptu effort, as opposed to an organized initiative.

In some ways, I view these donations as a unique combination of digital or Hashtag activism and crowdsourcing. Hashtag activism, which is sometimes criticized for being “all talk, no action,” was in this case extended to induce what those critics may view as a more tangible contributions. Conversely, when we discussed crowdsourcing in class we mentioned that marketing and outreach can sometimes be a hurdle, at least in the context of research. In this case, the involvement of celebrities and their capacity for outreach helped further the scale of the success of this crowdsourcing effort.


1 comment

The idea of tweeting a donation receipt makes me really uncomfortable, since Twitter is public. Would you tweet your donation receipt? There's a combination of celebrity magnetism and hashtag activism going on here, it seems to me. But I wonder: the phenomenon of something "going viral" -- can that be attributed to one or the other, or a combination of those two factors (the celeb and the hashtag)? Was this a viral trend? 

Side question: I have no idea who Sia is. Help please? But it's part of a larger question: I wonder about the identities of the celebrities who were tweeting and soliciting donations.