GoFundMe trucker convoy issue latest example of platform wading into controversy
Conservatives have repeatedly accused GoFundMe of political bias
GoFundMe, one of the world's largest fundraising services, has faced accusations of bias from conservatives over its decisions on which fundraisers are allowed to remain on the platform.
Most recently, the platform faced scrutiny after temporarily freezing the millions of dollars raised to support the Canadian trucker convoy protesting vaccine mandates, until it received more details on how the funds would be used.
But the platform has waded into controversy before.
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In 2019, Israel Folau, a Tongan-Australian Christian athlete sacked by Rugby Australia for posting a Bible verse about salvation, was denied use of the service over his religious beliefs on sexuality.
The 30-year-old rugby star was axed by the fundraising platform after raising more than $760,000 in legal fees.
Folau was forced to end his rugby career in May with the Waratahs and Wallabies after posting a picture on Instagram saying "Hell awaits you!" with a list of "sinners," including "homosexuals, adulterers, liars" and then said they must repent to Jesus to be saved.
The rugby fullback had been posting Bible verses and religious commentary on social since 2012. But that mid-April post was deemed homophobic by the RA, which said Folau violated behavior standards "including respectful use of social media," and said gave them "no choice" but to sack him.
Australia's GoFundMe regional manager Niccola Britton said in a statement that Folau was removed because the platform does "not tolerate the promotion of discrimination or exclusion."
"As a company, we are absolutely committed to the fight for equality for LGBTIQ+ people and fostering an environment of inclusivity," she said. "While we welcome GoFundMe's engaging in diverse civil debate, we do not tolerate the promotion of discrimination or exclusion."
In the U.S., last weekend GoFundMe suspended a fundraiser by Candace Owens created to help an Alabama bar following controversial comments made by its owner about George Floyd and protesters, according to multiple reports.
Owens, a conservative political activist, expressed her support and helped raise more than $200,000 for Birmingham’s Parkside Cafe. Its co-owner, Michael Dykes, had previously said Floyd was a "thug" and that protesters were "idiots" in a text message that was posted online, AL.com reported.
Owens, in a Facebook status, stated that she was helping the "already-struggling business" after Dykes’ comments led to a boycott.
GoFundMe removed the campaign citing a violation of their terms of service, based on a screenshot Owens posted online. It specifically referenced user content the company deemed "to be in support of hate, violence, harassment, bullying, discrimination, terrorism or intolerance of any kind."
It also was removed due to falsehoods against the Black community at a time of profound national crisis, according to Birmingham's WIAT.
Last year, GoFundMe removed a fundraiser for a Texas nurse seeking to sue a hospital after being terminated over the hospital's vaccination mandate.
Jennifer Bridges, a registered nurse and the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against Houston Methodist Hospital, said her director called her to ask if she'd gotten the vaccine yet or made any effort to do so. She said that when she replied "absolutely not," she was told that she was terminated.
Bridges started a GoFundMe campaign to cover the legal costs of fighting the termination. The campaign raised over $180,000 before the site axed the page completely, citing "misinformation."
"When our team initially reviewed the fundraiser, it was within our terms of service as the funds were for legal fees to fight vaccine mandates," GoFundMe spokesperson Heidi Hagberg said in a statement to Business Insider. "The fundraiser has since been updated to include misinformation which violates our terms of service."
A United States Army sergeant facing a murder charge after shooting a Black Lives Matter protester who approached his vehicle with an AK-47 had his GoFundMe page removed from the site by the company.
Perry’s attorneys confirmed to Fox News Digital that the GoFundMe page for their client, Army. Sgt. Daniel Perry, has been removed.
On the night of July 25, 2020, at about 9:50 p.m., authorities say Sgt. Daniel Perry was driving for Uber when he encountered a Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Austin, Texas. Perry, an active duty soldier, was stationed at Ft. Hood at the time. The protesters did not have a permit and were reportedly clogging a busy intersection.
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After making a right turn onto Austin’s Congress Avenue, Perry’s attorneys say he was swarmed by a group of Black Lives Matter protesters and a masked man, later identified as Garrett Foster, approached his vehicle armed with an AK-47 in the "ready position" as protesters began banging on Perry’s car and throwing bricks.
Believing that Foster was beginning to raise the rifle and that his life was in danger, Perry fired the handgun he kept in his car console multiple times at which point another protester opened fire on him.
Fox News' Emma Colton, Andrew Mark Miller and David Aaro contributed reporting.