- First, I would like everyone involved now, or previously involved with Restore the Fourth to know that my intentions have always been pure. I, as well as many others, made many sacrifices to ensure the movement was a success, and I feel as if I have let you down.
- So here am I, faced with a dilemma of whether to speak the truth from my perspective or to prevent impeded progress and back down refusing to share the story. I was faced with this same dilemma two months ago at the time of my resignation.
- I have taken a step back to examine the problems, and most of all, the reason we were all united in the first place; a brave individual stood up and told the truth. I am nowhere near the hero Snowden is, and I have not made near the sacrifices; but I feel that the community deserves the truth.
- Restore the Fourth started with a lot of momentum, receiving hundreds of thousands of views to the subreddit within the first few days. I knew this movement could develop into something great and provide a real avenue for needed change.
- We had our struggles in the beginning, the majority of us were working upwards of 20hrs per day between the movement and our personal lives; I really doubt anyone got a decent amount of sleep. We were all united for one reason; to restore and ensure the Fourth Amendment is upheld.
- A large amount of our problems in the beginning came from lack of direction or leadership. We had hundreds of talented people asking how they could help ensure this movement was a success. Really the only bearing we had for judging a leader was who had the most access to the accounts (Social Media, Website, Subreddit Mod, IRC access).
- PRESS RELEASE:
- I would like to start with the press release situation. Looking back, I probably could have handled things better, and I will be the first to admit my faults in the matter. We had a developing image to nurture, and a very strict timetable to keep with less than a month before "go" time. You really do not understand the real challenges our leaders have with democracy until you attempt to organize thousands and make everyone happy in the process. We had many arguments on the direction of the movement, what our initial "demands" would be, and how to word those "demands". We would have a working draft one night only to see someone start over and propose something new the next. Progress was in a lull so the PR director at the time decided to take a vote on the current draft and send it out that same night. Many individuals were upset that they were not involved with this vote, and even more upset when they saw that the release that was sent to thousands of media outlets had grammatical mistakes, spelling errors, improper formatting (for a press release), and improper timing (5:00pm EST on a Tuesday).
- Upon seeing these problems and the frustrations of individuals within the IRC channel, I decided to take action and remove the press release. I worked with an established journalist, and a political scientist to draft a temporary release. *Temporary* to keep our image from being diminished from our amateur first attempt. We pulled the first release, drafted the temporary one, and continued to work with experienced individuals from the community to create a new release that would be professionally reviewed and released the following Tuesday. Conflict continued, and everyone wanted a voice in a document that was to be no longer than 500 words. It came down to the evening before the release and there seemed to be no end to the conflict; no one could agree, so a judgement call was made to send the release to the editorial team at PR Web to be reviewed and released the following day.
- I invested a substantial amount of my personal money to ensure the release was successful, and successful it was. The former PR director (communications) was overall disappointed about the lack of cooperation, and after the decision I made on the release he resigned. We held a late night vote with no more than 15 people online electing me as interim Director of Communications. We continued to look for another individual with experience in public relations; with the day drawing near and no one with legitimate experience willing to work on a national level emerged. I took a more permanent role in communications due to my successes with the initial release and the following interviews (to name a few; one with TIME, and one with Mashable, both only days after the release). Due to the situation, and the lack of transparency certain individuals were not happy with me directing communications. They called for immediate removal of our successful release (so that they could work on, and post a new release), and to revoke my title as Director of Communications. To keep the peace, the decision was made behind the scenes by the somewhat established "core leadership" that they would give in to these individuals and have another late night vote for my removal. At this point, no one else had stepped up to the plate to assist with PR, and we still had many interviews streaming in, so I was asked to continue behind the scenes.
- I do not regret my decision on the release, and I feel that a lot of momentum came from the interviews and initial press.
- Domain issues / phone attachments:
- Our next obstacle had to do with the domain owner leaving for vacation. Shortly after he left (I'm still not sure if he has returned) our email went down. Apparently there were changes made in an attempt to get the SSL key working; changes that were untested and pointed our email records away from our outlook inbox. We were effectively dead in the water. After struggling with the registrars support; they were able to revert the changes and lock the domain until the owner returned. Unknown to me at the time, a *temporary* email, had been set up via gmail, posted to reddit, placed on the website, and given to media outlets.
- During the troubleshooting process with outlook, my phone number was attached to the account (with authorization from a member of "core leadership"). Me and this individual were the only two people at this point to have access to the firstname.lastname@example.org inbox.
- Douglas Macarthur:
- The person that created the IRC channel was an established moderator of /r/news, and had been with the movement from the start, constantly looking to help wherever he was needed. It wasn't until multiple weeks in that a second /r/news moderator showed up (DouglasMacArthur), was granted operator rights, and constantly looked to gain access to additional accounts. He continued to advocate that we needed to accept donations and when asked what we would use them for he mentioned facebook ads, but could come up with little else that required capital with just over a week to go before July 4th.
- I personally tried to abstain from having access to anything other than one account (email@example.com). The second moderator of /r/news continued to insist that he needed access to the press email inbox. When he was questioned as to why access was needed, he stated that Mashable had contacted him via the aforementioned *temporary* gmail and asked for an interview; he wanted to respond from the official press inbox (not firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com; both of which he already had access to). I informed him that an interview with Mashable had already taken place, and he was welcome to have a second interview, but he did not need access to the press inbox to do so.
- This lack of access escalated to the point of threatening sabotage. He threatened that if he did not gain access, he would tell Mashable and other reporters not to do an article. This threat set off alarms; anyone that genuinely cared about our cause would not threaten such a thing, especially over something as simple as access to an email.
- I connected the dots; constant account access grabs, advocating the need for donations without a legitimate reason, refusing to shed his veil of anonymity (TOR, hosted phone number, overall lack of identify transparency) and the threat of sabotage. I presented this case to another member of "core leadership" and asked that Douglas be removed. I mentioned my intentions of stepping up to take a leadership role to ensure the small amount of time (under a week) we had left was used efficiently. Maybe asking to take on a leadership position beyond communications was a mistake, but I felt we needed more organization and clearer direction leading to the day.
- My case was not well received, and certain members of "core leadership" were still not happy with me from the fallout after the press release situation. I was asked into a conference call with 4 individuals and asked to resign from the movement. They agreed that since I was the point of contact for press up until that point and with such little time to go, I should keep access to the inbox to work with existing press leads and prevent damage to our image; Douglas MacArthur would gain access as well.
- Shortly after being asked to leave, but guaranteed access to the inbox, the password was changed. I questioned multiple people, and they thought I had changed the password out of spite. I refuted this and remembered that my phone was attached to the outlook account. I asked if it would be alright for me to retrieve the password and I immediately gave the new password to the "core leadership".
- I continued to follow up with my existing press leads (multiple were for my local movement as well) until they transitioned all press inquiries to the firstname.lastname@example.org inbox.
- The night before Independence Day I posted my official resignation.
- The following day I went and protested with my local Dallas movement. I decided to distance myself entirely from the movement after the July 4th protests. I was not certain of the direction, and I was not content with some of the decisions being made.
- Please keep in mind that while I may not have gone about everything in a perfect manner, my intentions were pure from the start. I wanted nothing more than to uphold the integrity of the movement and see it become an ongoing success.
Restore the Fourth - Micheal
a guest Aug 30th, 2013 2,144 Never
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