In recent days, social media platforms have made moves to restrict content associated with President Donald Trump that may spark violence. GoFundMe is following this template and banning Trump rally fundraisers.
In the wake of the Capitol riot, the vast majority of social media platforms– including Twitter and Facebook – have banned the sitting president. Fundraising website GoFundMe is used by 96 million people, but it has announced that it has removed campaigns asking for donations to help travel to protests.
In a statement, a GoFundMe representative explained to Buzzfeed how it would change its practices:
Due to the violence, GoFundMe has removed numerous fundraisers intended to raise money for travel expenses. GoFundMe will remove fundraisers for travel expenses to a future political event where there’s risk of violence by the attendees.
The crowdfunding platform has been popular with Trump supporters, with a large number asking like-minded people to donate to their transport costs. 1,400 election-related fundraising campaigns have been found and deleted since November, and this appears to be because of the messaging that these campaigns carried.
High-profile fundraisers that have been deleted include one from Candace Owens. The company has stated that it has removed these campaigns because of a ‘pattern of inflammatory statements that spread hate, discrimination, intolerance and falsehoods’. Similar grounds have been the reason behind the removal of lower-profile campaigns. Notably, some of these crowdfunding projects have aligned themselves with ‘Proud Boys’.
There has been debate about whether the moves from social media have come too late, as these groups have been able to increase in size and publicity in recent years.
Claire Wardle, an expert on misinformation and social media, offered insight into why there may have been initial reluctance from social media sites and platforms to take action on such as:
For those of us who have been tracking platform responses, there have definitely been moments when we expected to see more action, and didn’t. But ultimately platforms, internet infrastructure companies and other sites like GoFundMe or Shopify never wanted to be dragged into these kinds of decisions, because they’re hard. But they now have little choice now because the pressure is so great.
While moves are now being made to limit the spread of messaging that incites violence, it seems that the alt-right groups have already begun to explore new avenues. GiveSendGo is facilitating crowdfunding campaigns for trips to Washington DC where the recipients intend to protest the transition of the presidency.
Let’s hope that any further protests are done peacefully, and that the democracy that the United States represents is respected.