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Shut up and give me your money: Social media’s twist on crowdfunding

While we’re busy politicising charity, some pioneering fellows in America are making money off it. Makes sense.

 

 

Crowdfunding is going through a bit of a rough patch. Many Australians are asking to repair the state of Israel’s career and/or monetise their prejudices. However, over in America, things are far more empathetic, if a little more blunt.Facebook is home to many of them. “Give me your money,” is the name of one of these Facebook groups, a melting pot of sob stories, inconveniences and a hand extended out to the fellow man. If you care not for the overtones of mugging in the above group, why not try “PayPal Prayers & Blessings,” “App Blessings,” “Give Me Some $$$ (strangers helping strangers and paying it forward).

Per The Atlantic, “People post how much they need, why they need it, and their preferred methods of payment, including their Venmo name or Cash App tag. They also include photos and sometimes “proof” that they’re real people and not scammers. As posters are funded, they update their listing with how much they’ve received. People usually ask questions in the comments below, sometimes trying to suss out how dire the situation really is, and comment with receipts when they donate so that everyone can see how much funding the original posters have received.”

It seems to work in theory. Cameron Ellis, a member of “give me your money,” recently posted: “If you have been helped you do the helping when you can whether it’s in the form of money, compassion, or animal pictures. It’s all about helping to make someone’s day a little better than it was before.” Jamie Ice, a fellow member of the group, added, “We’re not just a ‘Facebook crowdfunding group.’ We’re family.”

However, much like the country that bore it, the awkward subjectivities of life threaten to ruin it.

Because there’s money to be chiselled, scammers group within the huddled, can-jingling mass. As no moderator vets the stories, it’s left to the groups to police themselves. While some have taken it upon themselves to expose scammers, it’s often left to the reader to discern who is telling the truth. It’s ostensibly the Wild West, but with PayPal on their hips.

To prove that America is forever going to be America, some have attempted to profit off charity. John Ford (great name), who is an activist who made a name for himself during the Occupy Boston movement, managed to build a business through related merchandise sales. Which, I mean, you could question whether he truly wants to tear down capitalism, by wilfully participating in it, but hey.

Ford “also set up a separate website where users can pay $5 to pin their post, $5 to mute someone or reveal who muted you, and $10 to ban or reinstate a fellow member of the group,” per The Atlantic. 

There’s something ill with Ford’s payment method. Considering that one can pay money to boot people out, many just pay the fee to punish those they don’t like. The kicked person must then pay $10 to be reinstated to the group. Hmmm.

It’s also worth noting that charity is conditional, as one “give me your money” member was booted out of Eden when it became known that she had previously used her Facebook page to criticise those protested the national anthem. After she defended her stance a commenter replied, “You won’t get funded if you double down like that instead of listening and understanding.” Others have not received funding for child care after making anti-abortion comments.

‘Tis a fine, twisted dream you have here America. Deciding whether to help people who need help, but who qualify through a series of checks. Call me a traditionalist, but we Australians prefer the outwardly hateful model, thanks.

 

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