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From the 2nd Annual Shorty Social Good Awards

ACLU social media rapid response to Trump Muslim ban

Finalist in Real Time Response


On January 27, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order calling for "extreme vetting" from a number of Muslim-majority countries. The ACLU quickly sprung to action in the courts, on the streets and on social media. Our goals on social media were to build a narrative that incorporated:

Strategy and Execution

From the moment Trump announced his executive order, we had our messaging ready that this is really a discriminatory ban and blasted that out in tweets and social media graphics. This helped us educate supporters quickly. Then early morning on Saturday, ACLU and partners sued, and the digital team was ready to spring into action. We quickly posted a blog post explaining that we sued entitled "Trump Begins His Unconstitutional Program of Anti-Muslim Discrimination."

Shortly thereafter, our social media manager went to JFK airport and provided live social coverage of the ACLU lawyers inside the terminal and the protests outside. She utilized all the tools at her disposal, including Facebook Live, Periscope and Instagram stories.

While she was at the airport, another staff member was elevating voices of partner organizations, affiliates and activists at airports across the country, updating our supporters on the status of the legal case, legal information for people impacted by the ban, and elevating the voices of people posting that they were donating money to the ACLU, including celebrities such as Sia, Judd Apatow, and Chris Sacca.

While we did very few direct donation asks on our social page, we worked with Revolution Messaging to create social media ads throughout the day that served as a way to gain new supporters.

We also used social media to encourage supporters to show up at the courthouse, where ACLU lawyers were arguing against the ban. Our multimedia manager filmed video outside the courthouse. After the judge blocked the ban, Our graphic designer quickly created a victory graphic and a video of ACLU executive directory victory posted on Facebook was posted was viewed more than 19 million times.

Our team's work was unique because we were firing on all cylinders to provide breaking updates on the ground and keeping our social audience informed in real time. We provided education, mobilized supporters, provided actionable steps to get involved, gave a sense of hope, and did it all quickly and on multiple platforms.


Our social media response in the wake of the Muslim ban served as an essential news source for people watching the airport protests over the weekend. The social coverage of the lawyers at JFK and protests led to people in cities across the country going to airports to provide legal assistance and to protest as well, and to show up at the Brooklyn courthouse where we successfully argued the stay.

The most popular piece of content, the video (link below) of ACLU's executive director announcing the stay has been shared more than 300,000 times and received 19 million views. Over the course of a week, we shared 420 branded posts than received 6 million engagements and we netted 1.2 million new social media followers. In addition, we received $24 million in online donations, with many of our supporters spreading the word on social media, many including visible donations by celebrities and Lyft, and Twitter staff.

In addition, this weekend served as a catalyst for the ACLU's place as a visible part of the resistance. Since the Muslim ban response, the ACLU has seen an influx of new supporters and attention to our work. This has allowed us to continue to fight to defend the principles of American democracy.


Entrant Company / Organization Name

ACLU; Revolution Messaging