Misinformation and the ‘Support Officer Darren Wilson’ Fundraising Campaign
GoFundMe is home to nationally referenced fundraising campaigns that include both the ‘Michael Brown Memorial Fund’ and the ‘Support Officer Darren Wilson’ campaign, along with many other campaigns related to the awful events in Ferguson, MO.
Much like Facebook, Twitter, and many other websites, GoFundMe is an open social media platform where opposing ideas and viewpoints exist. If GoFundMe were to remove campaigns because they are unpopular, it would set a dangerous precedent moving forward for all users.
Specifically, GoFundMe will not remove a campaign because it has received unwanted and/or inappropriate comments from visitors. Doing so would provide a simple formula to any group interested in removing a campaign that they disagree with. As a reminder, choosing not to support a given campaign says just as much about you as those you do support.
To help reduce the continued spread of misinformation regarding the ‘Support Officer Darren Wilson’ fundraising campaign, GoFundMe is addressing a series of misconceptions below:
1. GoFundMe is raising money for Officer Darren Wilson.
False. GoFundMe does not engage in fundraising activities on anyone’s behalf. GoFundMe is a neutral technology platform that allows individuals to raise money online. All activity is conducted by campaign organizers and their supporters acting of their own accord.
2. The ‘Support Officer Darren Wilson’ campaign contains hateful content.
a) Despite altered images of the campaign’s primary photo circulating on Twitter, at no time was the campaign’s content in violation of any of GoFundMe’s Terms of Service. Unfortunately, some visitors left offensive remarks that were in violation of GoFundMe’s terms and were later removed.
b) The campaign organizer repeatedly acknowledged and apologized for any offensive comments left by others and manually removed the comments from appearing on the campaign.
c) As reported below, a malicious ‘trolling’ effort was then launched out of a forum thread on the ‘4chan’ website with the sole purpose of defacing the campaign and inciting strong reactions.
d) To put an end to the trolling attack, GoFundMe has prevented donor names and comments from appearing on the campaign. This feature is now available to all campaign organizers.
GoFundMe cannot penalize campaign organizers for unwanted comments posted to their campaigns by others.
3. The ‘Support Officer Darren Wilson’ campaign was created by an organized hate group.
False. GoFundMe has been in contact with the campaign organizer and absolutely no evidence supports this claim.
4. The ‘Support Officer Darren Wilson’ campaign was hidden by GoFundMe.
False. At no time did GoFundMe remove the ‘Support Officer Darren Wilson’ campaign from appearing publicly, or tamper with the site’s search results. Each campaign must meet the same set of requirements prior to being included within GoFundMe’s search results. This campaign no longer meets GoFundMe’s stated requirement of having a valid Facebook account connected. However, GoFundMe has been in contact with the campaign organizer and has no reason to question their authenticity. Finally, GoFundMe does possess the ability to place a hold on all donations raised by any campaign that warrants further investigation.
5. Donations to the ‘Support Officer Darren Wilson’ campaign were stopped by GoFundMe.
False. Each and every GoFundMe campaign organizer is able to decide for themselves when they would like to stop accepting donations. Organizers may also choose to begin accepting donations again at a later date, or remove their campaign entirely.
6. The ‘Support Officer Wilson’ campaign violates GoFundMe’s own terms.
False. GoFundMe cannot penalize campaign organizers by removing a campaign simply because unwanted comments were posted by others. While GoFundMe understands the strong emotions surrounding the terrible events in Ferguson, MO, no further action is justified or appropriate concerning the ‘Support Officer Darren Wilson’ fundraising campaign.