The GoFundMe Scandal Should Not Be Overlooked

Commentary  Imagine if your bank notified you that you no longer owned your life savings, and that your money would be distributed to those in need on the island of Madagascar. The crowdfunding platform GoFundMe essentially tried to pull that off last week, when it announced that the $10 million raised by the Freedom Convoy in Canada would be withheld and redistributed to a “verified charity.” Immediately, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis tweeted out that it was theft on a massive scale, and declared that he would begin investigating GoFundMe for fraud. Within hours, GoFundMe reversed their decision to repurpose the funds, and agreed to refund each individual who donated to help the Canadian truckers. Ostensibly, the story ends there. The media has moved on to the next big news hook, and the masses will likely never pause and reflect upon this colossal case of corruption in Silicon Valley. But they should, because the consequence of such barefaced thievery reveals an Orwellian world in which some groups are more equal than others, and a supposed platform of equality is, in fact, an authoritarian enemy of open discourse in a democratic society. There are many experiences we trust in this world to not be tainted with political partisanship. We trust, when we step on an escalator, it will carry us to our destination, regardless of our political party. We trust that a plumber will come fix our sink, no matter who we voted for. And we trust that GoFundMe is a neutral platform that will receive our donation to a dedicated cause, and distribute it appropriately. The deeper revelations about GoFundMe represent the seedy side of corporate power politics that we, as a society, must identify and challenge. Three stipulations of outrage need to be leveled at GoFundMe. First, it made a politicized decision to prevent the payments from reaching their rightful beneficiaries. GoFundMe released a statement claiming it received “reports of violence and other unlawful activity” from law enforcement. The fundraiser allegedly was “in violation” of their “Terms of Service” that “prohibit the promotion of violence and harassment.” In truth, the Convoy has been overwhelmingly peaceful, contrary to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s state-owned media’s framing of it as another January 6th incident. Consider this insidious article from the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC), Canada’s primary TV news source, which libeled the Convoy with the following malicious headline: “Protest mars family’s last moments with dying mother.” Canada’s largest news outlet detailed how noisy protesters and the toots of their truck horns disturbed the last moments of a 94-year-old hospitalized woman. To imply that serious objections should be raised to a legitimate civil rights protest on the grounds of creating noise disturbance for a nearby hospital is trivial and inane. It is clear government propaganda. This was but one of the many emotionally manipulative headlines filling Canada’s press pages and airwaves. Stripping $10 million dollars from thousands of people because of a few rowdy yahoos is absurd. GoFundMe stinks of hypocrisy. It let itself be used as a platform for bailing out violent rioters who had been arrested during the George Floyd protests. Similarly, GoFundMe proudly supported and promoted the Seattle based, anti-police, Antifa-run Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP) in 2020. Several Black minors were murdered there, amidst anarchy and chaos, absent any police presence to restore order. Unless Canada has kangaroo courts, GoFundMe’s claims of violence simply would not hold up to a reality check. And they know it. Still, even freezing the funds for a month would be enough to seriously impede the protest and impose great hardship. And it seems clear that this is what GoFundMe was aiming for. The second layer of outrage against the Internet business can be found in the same statement, announcing it would be withholding funds from the Convoy’s organizers. As to what would be done with that money? GoFundMe declared, without shame, that they will “send all remaining funds to credible and established charities chosen by the Freedom Convoy 2022 organizers and verified by GoFundMe.” Essentially, this is sleight of hand, aiming to dupe the organizers into conspiring with GoFundMe against their own interests. To be clear, though it is bad faith, GoFundMe legally can refrain from distributing the money to the intended recipients, as long as it’s refunded to the donors. But to manipulate truckers against themselves reveals how effete GoFundMe feels about the position they are taking. Giving the money to a charity of the Convoy’s choice? What depraved legerdemain. The last layer of outrage is the most sinister. Immediately after DeSantis’ claim that GoFundMe’s actions amounted to “deceptive practices,” GoFundMe buckled. They issued another statement that read: “We will automatically refund all contributions directly–donors do not need

The GoFundMe Scandal Should Not Be Overlooked

Commentary 

Imagine if your bank notified you that you no longer owned your life savings, and that your money would be distributed to those in need on the island of Madagascar.

The crowdfunding platform GoFundMe essentially tried to pull that off last week, when it announced that the $10 million raised by the Freedom Convoy in Canada would be withheld and redistributed to a “verified charity.”

Immediately, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis tweeted out that it was theft on a massive scale, and declared that he would begin investigating GoFundMe for fraud.

Within hours, GoFundMe reversed their decision to repurpose the funds, and agreed to refund each individual who donated to help the Canadian truckers.

Ostensibly, the story ends there. The media has moved on to the next big news hook, and the masses will likely never pause and reflect upon this colossal case of corruption in Silicon Valley.

But they should, because the consequence of such barefaced thievery reveals an Orwellian world in which some groups are more equal than others, and a supposed platform of equality is, in fact, an authoritarian enemy of open discourse in a democratic society.

There are many experiences we trust in this world to not be tainted with political partisanship. We trust, when we step on an escalator, it will carry us to our destination, regardless of our political party. We trust that a plumber will come fix our sink, no matter who we voted for. And we trust that GoFundMe is a neutral platform that will receive our donation to a dedicated cause, and distribute it appropriately. The deeper revelations about GoFundMe represent the seedy side of corporate power politics that we, as a society, must identify and challenge.

Three stipulations of outrage need to be leveled at GoFundMe. First, it made a politicized decision to prevent the payments from reaching their rightful beneficiaries. GoFundMe released a statement claiming it received “reports of violence and other unlawful activity” from law enforcement. The fundraiser allegedly was “in violation” of their “Terms of Service” that “prohibit the promotion of violence and harassment.”

In truth, the Convoy has been overwhelmingly peaceful, contrary to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s state-owned media’s framing of it as another January 6th incident. Consider this insidious article from the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC), Canada’s primary TV news source, which libeled the Convoy with the following malicious headline: “Protest mars family’s last moments with dying mother.”

Canada’s largest news outlet detailed how noisy protesters and the toots of their truck horns disturbed the last moments of a 94-year-old hospitalized woman. To imply that serious objections should be raised to a legitimate civil rights protest on the grounds of creating noise disturbance for a nearby hospital is trivial and inane. It is clear government propaganda. This was but one of the many emotionally manipulative headlines filling Canada’s press pages and airwaves.

Stripping $10 million dollars from thousands of people because of a few rowdy yahoos is absurd. GoFundMe stinks of hypocrisy. It let itself be used as a platform for bailing out violent rioters who had been arrested during the George Floyd protests. Similarly, GoFundMe proudly supported and promoted the Seattle based, anti-police, Antifa-run Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP) in 2020. Several Black minors were murdered there, amidst anarchy and chaos, absent any police presence to restore order.

Unless Canada has kangaroo courts, GoFundMe’s claims of violence simply would not hold up to a reality check. And they know it. Still, even freezing the funds for a month would be enough to seriously impede the protest and impose great hardship. And it seems clear that this is what GoFundMe was aiming for.

The second layer of outrage against the Internet business can be found in the same statement, announcing it would be withholding funds from the Convoy’s organizers. As to what would be done with that money? GoFundMe declared, without shame, that they will “send all remaining funds to credible and established charities chosen by the Freedom Convoy 2022 organizers and verified by GoFundMe.” Essentially, this is sleight of hand, aiming to dupe the organizers into conspiring with GoFundMe against their own interests.

To be clear, though it is bad faith, GoFundMe legally can refrain from distributing the money to the intended recipients, as long as it’s refunded to the donors. But to manipulate truckers against themselves reveals how effete GoFundMe feels about the position they are taking. Giving the money to a charity of the Convoy’s choice? What depraved legerdemain.

The last layer of outrage is the most sinister. Immediately after DeSantis’ claim that GoFundMe’s actions amounted to “deceptive practices,” GoFundMe buckled. They issued another statement that read: “We will automatically refund all contributions directly–donors do not need to submit a request.” While this is a positive outcome, the fact that it only took one government threat–in a tweet, no less–for them to back down, is revealing. What this has brought to light is that woke, corporate enterprises like GoFundMe are committed to their ideology only to the extent that they can get away with it. As soon as they realized that what they were doing wasn’t going to wash, they caved.

In this rare head-on confrontation, the forces of justice have prevailed. GoFundMe is now being investigated by at least four states for withholding donations. Its officials will have to defend its policies and practices before Canada’s House Public Safety and National Security committee in March.

Within six hours of the donation freeze, GiveSendGo, the Convoy’s new fundraising page, raised $250,000 dollars. It is now up to over $8 million. Its opponents are so threatened by this sum that activists have hacked into the platform to try to render it inaccessible to contributors. They have even began doxing donors as punishment.

Essentially declaring war on his own country, Trudeau has invoked the Emergency Act, a never-before used law that accords himself unprecedented power and special authority. His first step? A unilateral freeze of the financial accounts of any trucker involved in the protest.

But unfortunately for the elite collectivists, this is an unbeatable movement, led by the people, for the people. Ironically, it is precisely the kind of grassroots movement that Democrats would have wanted to see in the 1960s.

Over the weekend, Florida’s Chief Financial Officer said that GoFundMe “has zero transparency in the way they do business,” claiming the platform recently diverted cash from grieving family members at the Surfside condo collapse. What originated as a neutral platform for social funding has morphed into a partisan weapon to benefit the adherence of a left-wing political agenda. The unethical appropriation of monies from the well-intended is a subversive effort to undermine the principles of fair play and equal treatment under the guise of an apolitical corporate actor.

It is time GoFraudMe sees their day in court.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


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Karys Rhea is a writer and researcher in Brooklyn with Canadian roots. You can follow her on Twitter @RheaKarys.