The platform allows individual citizens to set up petitions, which if pass a certain threshold, warrant a response from the White House itself. Describing what happens when the 25,000 signature mark is reached, the White House states that its “policy officials review [the petition] and publish an official response.”
This has led to hundreds of petitions started, of which 112 have reached the required threshold. Given the popularity of the platform, the White House raised the requirements from 5,000 signatures in 30 days, to 25,000.
Interestingly, in its post on the achievement, the White House directly praises the petitions for helping to impact policy:
Many times, petitions posted on We the People have a real impact on policy-making. For example, the popularity of two petitions concerning online piracy (a.k.a. SOPA & PIPA) crystallized the Administration’s position on the issue, which was first detailed in a response on We the People.
Obviously, a great number of other forces were at work, including a very public shaming of 29 major technology firms, but the fact that a petition helped the White House policy wonks fully wrap their head around the twin bills is something that should keep users of the platform engaged; using We the People is a direct line to the Executive Branch, provided that you can garner sufficient co-signers.
Now, what sort of cause or issue is the most popular? Ask and ye shall receive. The following is an excerpt from the official White House infographic:
All told, the White House appears to have found a way to both engage the citizenry, using current technology to better link those who write policy, and those who it affects. Expect We the People to only become more popular, now that the current administration has highlighted the impact its use can have.
Top Image Credit: Muhammad Ghafari