Moderation Policy

Background

The White House has created We the People to be a platform on the White House website where individuals can create and sign petitions that call for action by the federal government on a range of issues facing our nation. For each topic included in We the People, users can petition the Administration to address a problem, support or oppose a proposal, or otherwise change or continue federal government policy or actions.

After a user creates a petition, he or she will receive a direct link to that petition that may be sent to friends, posted on social networks, or otherwise shared in order to gain signatures for the petition. If the petition meets a pre-set signature threshold within a designated time period, the petition will become visible to individuals browsing or searching the White House website. If enough users sign the petition to reach a second pre-set signature threshold within that time period, the White House commits to respond to the petition in a timely fashion. The White House may also elect to respond to any petition before it reaches the first or second threshold. Once the White House responds to a petition, it is closed to additional signatures.

To participate in We the People, an individual must agree to Terms of Participation that describe the scope of the We the People platform and set certain reasonable restrictions on its use. We the People expands the options for contacting the White House and does not displace current official methods of communication, such as mailing or emailing the White House. If an individual is not willing to agree to We the People’s Terms of Participation, but wants to send a message, petition, or other form of communication to the White House, that individual may do so through the White House Office of Correspondence, which maintains a contact form and information about communicating with the White House at www.whitehouse.gov/contact.

Moderation Policy

The White House created the We the People platform on the White House website to foster a focused and civil conversation about how the federal government should address a range of issues. This moderation policy ensures that We the People can fulfill that purpose and advances important interests. It promotes a focused and productive discussion by limiting petitions to those addressing federal government action or policy on the topics included in We the People. It encourages the participation of individuals representing a wide range of viewpoints, ages, and backgrounds by promoting an atmosphere of civility. And because We the People takes place on White House website, it maintains the appropriate level of respect and decorum on, and the aesthetics of, the official website of the President and his staff, a website visited by schoolchildren and many other visitors in the country and around the world who want to learn more about the United States and may associate content on the White House website with the federal government.

To advance these compelling interests, the Terms of Participation for We the People place some reasonable restrictions on the use of the We the People platform:

1.) Petitions must fall within the scope of We the People—i.e., seeking federal government actions or policies on the topics included in the platform. Petitions that fall outside of this scope violate the Terms of Participation and will be removed in accordance with this Moderation Policy; this would include, for example, petitions that advertise or call for the endorsement or purchase of commercial goods or services, that expressly urge the support or opposition of candidates for elected office, that do not address the actions or policies of the federal government, or that address a topic not included in We the People at the time the petition was created.

2.) Additionally, petitions containing the following material violate the Terms of Participation and will be removed in accordance with this Moderation Policy:
a.) Threats of unlawful violence or harm to any individual or group
b.) Obscene, vulgar, or lewd material
c.) Defamatory or fraudulent statements
d.) Terms commonly understood to constitute profanity or abusive or degrading slurs or epithets
e.) Information that invades an individual’s privacy
f.) Information that if published would violate criminal law or give rise to civil liability

The White House will periodically review petitions to determine whether they are consistent with the Terms of Participation. As part of We the People, users will have the ability to “flag” petitions that they believe violate the Terms of Participation. The White House may rely on these flags to identify petitions that should be reviewed for consistency with the Terms of Participation. Petitions will not be selected for review or removal on the basis of the viewpoint they advance.

If a review determines that a petition violates the Terms of Participation, the petition will be removed from We the People. The user who submitted the petition will be notified and have the opportunity to request reconsideration of the determination. The only consequence of submitting a petition that violates the Terms of Participation will be the removal of the petition from We the People. The user may create additional petitions that advance their view but are consistent with the Terms of Participation; they may also utilize the alternative official channels described above.