The largest crowdfunding platform says it is banning campaigns raising money to promote falsehoods about vaccinations.
This year the World Health Organization added “vaccine hesitancy” to its annual list of health threats. Dozens of children have been infected with measles in recent outbreaks in New York and Washington, according to the CDC. But despite the alarming spread of a vaccine-preventable disease, anti-vaccination movements have been spreading misinformation online, with YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, Amazon, and Instagram all recently taking steps to slow the dissemination of bunk.
Last week, however, the American Medical Association urged those businesses and other big tech companies to do more to stop anti-vaccination campaigns, citing a decrease in vaccination rates that could “threaten to erase many years of progress as nearly eliminated and preventable diseases return.”
Now GoFundMe seems to be making some effort to slow this reversal. The Daily Beast reports that the crowdfunding site is cracking down on campaigns to spread anti-vaccination lies.
“Campaigns raising money to promote misinformation about vaccines violate GoFundMe’s terms of service and will be removed from the platform,” GoFundMe spokesman Bobby Whithorne told The Daily Beast. “We are conducting a thorough review and will remove any campaigns currently on the platform.”
Responding to a request for comment, a GoFundMe spokesperson shared the same statement with Gizmodo and said: “These types of campaigns are extremely rare. Currently, we’ve removed fewer than 10 campaigns.”
The Daily Beast report points to their recent reporting on anti-vaccination and “vaccine choice” campaigns that raised at least $170,000 over the last four years, including fundraisers for A Voice for Choice that raised $39,801, and fundraisers for anti-vaccination activist Larry Cook that raised $79,000.
The news outlet found that Cook’s recent campaign raising funds for Facebook ads aimed at mothers in Washington state seems to have been removed this week.
Even if GoFundMe is able to remove all campaigns to promote misinformation about vaccines, these represent just a subset of anti-vaccination fundraising online. Friday afternoon, a Gizmodo search on GoFundMe turned up numerous active campaigns for organizations, rallies, and promotional materials referencing vaccine choice.