With a service that donates to the ACLU when Trump tweets, Make Tweets Great Again is a prime example of apps as activism

Earlier this month, Sarah Silverman tweeted about a new website called Make Tweets Great Again that had sprung up to give money to the ACLU every time President Donald Trump dropped a tweet bomb from his personal account.

The project is a prime example of a newfound “apptivism” from coders and developers across the Web, and the til-now-anonymous developers of the site hope that other programmers will get in on the act.

The site is the work of HappyFunCorp developer Aaron Brocken, a product architect at the Brooklyn-based app development shop.

While other sites and services are providing tools to communicate with voters and Congressional representatives, or engage directly with the White House, Brocken felt that he had another, equally powerful tool at his disposal — his coding skills.

In the wake of the election, Brocken, who grew up gay in the Midwest, felt exposed to a level of antagonism he hadn’t experienced since he made his way to New York.

“Living in New York City and working in tech, you feel pretty insulated [from hatred]. This is the first time in my life that I didn’t feel insulated.”

That exposure left Brocken somewhat powerless, he said, so he turned to what he knew best. “It was as much an action item for me as calling a senator,” he said. “All I can do is code and build shit.”

And that’s how Make Tweets Great Again was born.

Brocken went to company co-founder Ben Schippers and asked if Schippers would fund the project. Initially reluctant to get involved in politics, Schippers said he quickly changed his mind after the president signed the executive order for what has become known as the first Muslim Ban.

“It’s hard to be a business owner and get involved in politics,” said Schippers. For a while, Schippers said he was concerned about the way potential and current customers may react to the role the company was playing.

“A lot of people in New York and San Francisco… they aren’t really speaking out,” said Schippers. “Aaron pitched the idea to me and I thought this was a positive way to engage.”

The Make Tweets Great Again premise is simple. Users pledge to donate a certain amount of money every time Donald Trump tweets from his personal account. It’s a passive way to be involved, but it’s one that can engage people across the political spectrum by supporting one of the most active civil rights organizations in the country.

Already they’ve been overwhelmed by the feedback on Twitter, and Brocken hopes it inspires other developers to work on similar projects.

“There’s definitely ways to upset the status quo and have a bunch of projects jumping up,” he said.

At the same time, both Schippers and Brocken wanted this to be a project that everyone could get behind.

“Aaron and I spent a lot of time to make sure that this is not a negative thing,” said the HappyFunCorp co-founder.

If it’s successful, the company said it would look to expand the project so that would-be donors could pick their organization and their Twitter target. The idea is to make it easier for people to engage with organizations they care about in a way that could, ostensibly, influence behavior.

And they’re opening up the platform to other developers, as well.

“Even if people don’t donate, as long as it inspires someone to take some action, it’s worth it,” said Brocken.