Do Change.Org petitions really work?

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LOWER MANHATTAN -- It's a TV series that gripped millions who binge watched -- we're talking about Netflix's" Making a Murderer," which focused on the murder trial of Steven Avery who is found guilty after so many twists and turns.

The series sparked outrage across the nation. People are citing that the justice system failed big time.

In fact, Change.Org now has a petition with nearly 500,000 signatures on it, asking for Avery to be pardoned and freed by  President Obama.

"Look at the conversation this has tapped into," says Michael Jones, the Deputy Managing Director for "Everyone is talking about this series, and the petition is creating a huge amount of momentum."

However, President Obama did respond to the petition saying he does not have the power to pardon Avery because it is a State case, not Federal.

"When the White House responded to a petition, that is incredibly exciting," says Jones. But, the petition has not changed much of anything.

So, PIX11 went inside's Manhattan headquarters to find out why 130 million people are signing petitions and sharing them on social media. Plus, we wanted to know: are they really changing anything at all?

"Everyday we see over 1,000 petitions started on the site and they range from everything from let's get a stoplight in our community to something big," says Jones.  " We see a win almost every hour of every day."

A win means the petition saw a positive outcome. But as we have seen on Facebook and Twitter, not everything is necessarily real. There is a tendency for social media sites to have 'bots' sending out tweets.

"We have an ability to monitor," says Jones. "We may see an instance where there is some weird signature spike and we can see it immediately and address it."

So, it it working?

Local Brooklyn activist Danielle Legg turned to change to help her cause -- the abuse of animals at SeaWorld.

"I was asking Willie Nelson not to play the SeaWorld venue because he cares about animals and I didn't think it lined up with where he was with animals," says Legg.

Legg's petition was signed by nearly 10-thousand people and Nelson acknowledged the supporters on National TV.

"There were petitions with thousands of signatures, so I had to cancel," Nelson told CNN.

But, not every petition guarantees a positive outcome.

For Harlem resident, Ebony Underwood, a victory is hard to come by.   She is fighting for her father William who was a successful music promoter for stars like Michael Jackson.   He was found guilty in the 80s of a minor drug offense and sentenced to a mandatory minimum of life in prison.

"It was the law of the land," says Underwood.   "It was the Reagan era and the war on drugs, and that's what it was."

However, the laws have changed.  It's not unconstitutional for mandatory minimum sentences. President Obama has granted clemency to dozens of people because of the changed laws.

The issue is that the laws don't apply to past convictions. That's why Underwood continues to fight for her father's release.

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