Too often GoFundMe pitches lead to bad charitable choices

January 25, 2018 — by Jayne Zhou

With minumum security, GoFundMe is a platform vulnerable to fakers and liars. Doing research before donating thousands of dollars on a GoFundMe page is a must.

Hundreds of messages of support and love for Knoxville, Tenn., resident, Keaton Jones, flooded several social media platforms on Dec. 8 as his mother’s video of her criticizing her son’s bullies and crying went viral.    

This tearful cry struck a chord with millions nationwide. The video was shared across several platforms including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, making this bullied boy an overnight celebrity and raising over $57,000 on a GoFundMe account for him.

However, after his story went viral, it emerged that the bullies had targeted him in response to Keaton’s use of racial slurs and the emergence of controversial images of Keaton’s family holding up white supremacy signs.

A-list celebrities with great influence like Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Demi Lovato, Cardi B and Katy Perry had previously expressed their encouragement, but later deleted it when the images surfaced.

However, what can’t be taken back is the $57,000 of donation money his family received from people who were influenced by his tear-evoking video.

Similarly, other misleading GoFundMe campaigns have drawn huge donations before. For example, multiple fake GoFundMe campaigns went up after the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla.

Although GoFundMe is an innovative platform for people who have gone through tragic situations or need the help, everyone should be wary before donating to the cause of the moment.

People need to consider the entire situation before they show their complete support for a situation as severe as Keaton’s, even it is often difficult to determine the validity of GoFundMe campaigns.

Admittedly, thousands of new campaigns are created on GoFundMe around the world every day, making difficult to determine which ones are legitimate and worthy of support. And the website itself has minimal curation when it comes to the causes up for crowdfunding.

According to Gizmodo, GoFundMe public relations manager Kelsey Little said the website has a team of people who look at every GoFundMe campaign before it becomes public to make sure it is in accordance with the company’s terms and conditions. However, the company still allows people to ask for almost anything and then doesn't proactively follow up on how they use money personally withdrawn.

Donating to a reputable charity is a much better option if you want to make a difference. It is undoubtedly a safer bet for helping other people and can often target a wider audience instead of solely benefitting one person — in this case, someone truly not deserving of $57,000.