Millions of Americans across the nation made history when they joined together for the Women’s March.
Noting how much of an effort i was to get a “head count” for the huge rally, celebrities started encouraging their millions of social media followers to share their information by sending a text to a specific number:
If u marched in any city, text "count me" to 89800. The Women's March organizers r trying 2 get head count. Copy & paste 4 ur friends!
— Jamie Lee Curtis (@jamieleecurtis) January 22, 2017
If you marched in ANY city, text "count me" to 89800. The Women's March organizers are trying to get a full count.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) January 22, 2017
Yo! If you marched yesterday. In any city text "count me"to 89800. They are trying to get a head… https://t.co/0cozJERoUM
— Chloe Bennet (@ChloeBennet4) January 22, 2017
Upon texting the number, participants were then reportedly “prompted to fill out a form that includes their zip code and email address” with what many assumed were actually the rally’s official organizers.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case:
— WMLA community (@womensmarchla) January 23, 2017
It turns out — as rumor-busting website Snopes reports — that “count me” request was neither sent out nor endorsed by the Women’s March organizers.
Upon realizing this, participants began warning their fellow protestors not to text the number or share their information, but for many, it was already too late:
Guys. Don’t do this. Nobody has any idea who is collecting this information. The organizers say it’s not them. https://t.co/AYJxdwqUvX
— Liz (@psyckology) January 22, 2017
Instead, the “count me” text was an independent effort by the It’s Time Network, which describes itself as “a network working to advance the empowerment of women & girls to achieve #genderequality, evolve democracy, build fair economies & regenerate the Earth.”
Afterwards, It’s Time consultant Martha McKenna said that her group had been “actively participating with the march organizers,” and the confusion was all simply a mistake:
“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.”
According to a Daily Mail report, all those Women’s March participants who texted their information may have shared it with a wider audience than they hoped, namely, a group affiliated with the Democratic Socialists of America and the Communist Party of the U.S.A.
As Daily Mail explains:
The It’s Time Network issued an apologetic public statement this week, but so far it has provided few details on how the cell phone data will be used outside of being shared with ‘official march organizers’…
Over 200 partner groups were also involved in the march, including political organs such as the Communist Party and the Democratic Socialists of America.
Others included Free the Nipple, a clothing store that sells t-shirts with photos of topless women, and an ‘anarcha-Feminist’ group called the Autonomous Womyn’s Front.
The Council on American Islamic Relations, a group that has had several board members accused of terrorism, was also a national march partner.
While the Women’s March vowed that it “will provide additional details” on the situation, it remains unclear as of now who exactly was given access to that personal information or how they intend to use it.