On Sunday, following the historic nationwide Women’s March that brought over 3 million people across the country into the streets, a campaign was circulating online that encouraged participants to text a five-digit number to be counted as having participated.
The tweets surrounding the text campaign went viral, but many began to speculate over its origins as the effort wasn’t listed anywhere on the official Women’s March website. Late Sunday afternoon, national organizers of the march tweeted that they’d “seen some third party accounts collecting information for a headcount. The Women’s March is not behind these efforts.” That tweet has since been deleted.
Tweets from both the Women’s March NYC and Women’s March L.A. accounts had both encouraged participating in the text campaign earlier that day, but both tweets have also been deleted. The Women’s March L.A. Twitter shared this on Sunday evening:
Twitter was abuzz on Sunday night with the speculation that the 89800 number was a spam account from a marketing firm trying to collect data on the marchers. The Google form that gets sent back after texting 89800 says that the count was being “conducted by ItsTimeNetwork.org.” Martha McKenna, a consultant at It’s Time Network, told the Cut over the phone that the organization is a “research organization and network that pulls together women’s organizations in advancing policy to support gender equity.”
McKenna also offered this statement on yesterday’s debacle to clarify the nonprofit’s involvement with the Women’s March:
“It’s Time Network had been actively participating with the march organizers and had conference calls with them back in January. All of this was coordinated. But I feel like what happened in the mix of this—there were lots of organizers, big organizations, lots happening—the information got to some people, but not other people. In a march this big with so many moving parts, the Count Me In effort either fell through the cracks or didn’t get communicated. It was all done with the very best of intentions to support the march.”
After yesterday’s confusion, McKenna said she did not know if the Women’s March organizers would be using the data collected. She said only a head count and phone number would be given to the organizers, if they chose to use it.
A spokesperson from the national organizers of the Women’s March confirmed to us via email that more details are forthcoming on whether the data collected from It’s Time Network’s campaign will be used:
“We are beyond pleased to have the support of the millions of participants who joined in the Woman’s March in DC and across the globe. We are continuing to analyze the data that was received during the march day. As we proceed with this movement, we will provide additional details on how the data will be used, with the goal of keeping participants informed, connected and activated. This is just the beginning. “
We will continue to update this post as more information comes in.
This post has been updated throughout.