Over the last ten years, Twitter has emerged as the “people’s news network” and is a vital utility for new organizing efforts from the Arab Spring to Black Lives Matter. However, a volatile stock price and shifting corporate politics have not resulted in a product that is responsive to the needs of its users. What if Twitter was owned by its users not just investors? It could truly be a voice of the people and really start to change the world.
We worked with a small team of cooperative organizers who started the campaign over a year ago. They had a Change.org petition and a lot of earned press coverage, but needed an engaging website to connect organizers and show the potential of their ideas. We built BuyTwitter.org over the course of a few weeks with volunteer designers and technologists, and helped move their list of supporters from Change to the Action Network, where we could continue to engage their list in new fights for platform cooperatives.
The proposal to study democratic ownership went to a vote at the annual shareholders meeting on May 22nd. While it did not gain a majority, it did reach a critical 4% threshold to merit re-consideration next year. 6,000 signatures, endorsements from major shareholders, and over a hundred press articles show the power of the idea, and we will be back in 2018 pushing for the voice of the people in the management of our favorite social network.