The proliferation of crowd-funding sites has raised new issues around the ethics of online fundraising.
Probably the best-known of these sites, Kickstarter, posted a statement on its blog Friday disclosing that it had allowed someone to raise more than $16,000 for a “seduction guide” that encourages misogynistic behavior.
Under the headline “We Were Wrong,” Kickstarter reported:
“On Wednesday morning Kickstarter was sent a blog post quoting disturbing material found on Reddit. The offensive material was part of a draft for a “seduction guide” that someone was using Kickstarter to publish. The posts offended a lot of people — us included — and many asked us to cancel the creator’s project. We didn’t.
“We were wrong.
“Why didn’t we cancel the project when this material was brought to our attention? Two things influenced our decision:
- The decision had to be made immediately. We had only two hours from when we found out about the material to when the project was ending. We’ve never acted to remove a project that quickly.
- Our processes, and everyday thinking, bias heavily toward creators. This is deeply ingrained. We feel a duty to our community — and our creators especially — to approach these investigations methodically as there is no margin for error in canceling a project. This thinking made us miss the forest for the trees.
“These factors don’t excuse our decision but we hope they add clarity to how we arrived at it.
“Let us be 100% clear: Content promoting or glorifying violence against women or anyone else has always been prohibited from Kickstarter. If a project page contains hateful or abusive material we don’t approve it in the first place. If we had seen this material when the project was submitted to Kickstarter (we didn’t), it never would have been approved. Kickstarter is committed to a culture of respect.”
The company said there is no way to reclaim the money once it has been claimed, but that it was removing the project page from its platform. It also announced it was donating $25,000 to an anti-sexual violence organization.