Following GoFundMe’s decision to ban Israel Folau’s fundraising page, legal and social media experts are debating the extent to which crowdfunding websites should monitor their campaigns.
Folau set up his GoFundMe page to raise $3 million to fund his legal battle against Rugby Australia, who had sacked the rugby player in May for posting homophobic content on his Instagram page. Folau’s appeal had raised over $750,000 from several thousand donors before GoFundMe removed the campaign for breaching its terms of service.
GoFundMe’s decision to pull Folau’s page received mixed opinion. More broadly, it encouraged many to question crowdfunding sites’ ability to identify and take action on controversial fundraising campaigns of this type.
Ryan Shelley, social media expert, said that it is difficult for platforms such as GoFundMe to keep an eye on all crowdfunding campaigns, since thousands are launched on a daily basis. While there are certain algorithms that can generate prompts for manual action when they pick up defamatory or vulgar terms, these are not perfect systems that crowdfunding websites can rely on.
He said that Folau’s campaign did not appear to include any words that would trigger any of these automated moderating features, hence why it kept going for a period of time.
“It was only after it started to run, and the media and public noticed it, that people brought it to the attention of GoFundMe.”
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