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PayPal Has Blocked A Crowdfunding Site That Provided Financial Support For US Capitol Riot Attendees

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PayPal Has Blocked A Crowdfunding Site That Provided Financial Support For US Capitol Riot Attendees

People around the world were shocked when a planned protest in Washington, D.C. devolved into a riot on January 6th. Momentarily, even Democrats and Republicans were united in their denunciation of the riot. However, the shockwaves this event sent across the political landscape reverberated well into its aftermath. 

Corporations and financial institutions made moves to show their disapproval and protect their reputation after the actions that took place on January 6th. AT&T Inc (NYSE: T), American Express Company (NYSE: AXP) and Dow Inc (NYSE: DOW) stated that they would cut out campaign contributions to political figures who stood by former President Trump after the election. A slew of social media accounts have since been banned.

But a more overlooked consequence of the riot was how PayPal Holdings Inc (NASDAQ: PYPL) has announced they have blocked Christian crowdfunding website, GiveSendGo, after they were found to have participated in raising funds for those involved in the protest. 

This article will dive into the overall use of crowdfunding sites to raise funds and investments for causes and campaigns, and how these platforms may help shape our political future. We’ll also provide insights regarding the GiveSendGo site, and the financial contributions it has given to U.S. Capitol riot attendees. 

Crowdfunding For A Cause

The trend towards digital crowdfunding began in 2008 when then-Senator Barack Obama’s campaign was able to raise a whopping $750 million dollars from small donors, who gave directly from their website. Traditionally, campaigns were financed from wealthy donors and corporations, so this development has been a significant one for our democracy. 

Crowdfunding is an increasingly popular method of raising funds for both businesses and political campaigns from all ends of the political spectrum, with over $31 billion expected to be invested into organizations by next year. The power of crowdfunding doesn’t just come from the amount of money raised, however. The concept of crowdfunding reinforces the democratic idea that our actions and voices, when combined, can make a difference. 

It’s also a powerful way of gauging political support. Research shows that when people invest their hard-earned money for a cause, they become more committed to it. For example, individuals who pledge money for politicians running for office are much more likely to vote, or they feel as if they just wasted their money. 

Small donors are also more likely to commit time to volunteering for a cause. When small-time political contributors use crowdfunding websites to donate to a politician, they can opt to provide their contact information. The campaign can then contact them and solicit additional donations or ask for other types of support, further involving them in the political process. 

GiveSendGo And Their Connection To The Capitol Riots

The GiveSendGo platform was used for a campaign to raise funds for the legal defense of the individuals who were arrested for their connection with the riots. The platform has also been utilized by Ali Alexander and Enrique Tarrio, right-wing activists who are known for getting in trouble with the law. 

Tarrio, chairman of the nationalist group Proud Boys, used the platform to raise $113k for legal defense after he was arrested for lighting a Black Lives Matter flag on fire. Alexander (formerly known as Akbar) founded the Stop the Steal movement, and was allegedly one of the main promoters of violence during the protest-turned-riot. 

According to The Guardian, Alexander was among a group that chanted “Victory or death” prior to invading the U.S. Capitol. His promise was complete when fellow rioter Ashli Babbitt was shot and instantly killed by DC police. Later, it was reported that three others died due to medical emergencies, as well as a police officer who passed away due to unspecified injuries that occurred during the riot. 

According to GiveSendGo’s founder, Jacob Wells, the decision to cut ties with PayPal was mutual, and the platform does not feel responsible for supervising every fundraising campaign that is hosted on their website. “The platform does not raise money or endorse campaigns on their site,” the company said in a statement. “It is important to understand how crowdfunding works to eliminate a lot of the false narrative being thrown around.”

Either way, it’s clear that the crowdfunding platform’s reputation has been affected by the recent events and has generated negative press that may hurt the brand in the future. 

PayPal’s decision has been praised by many, but others are understandably very concerned. Some say that this could cause crowdfunding efforts to shift to the dark web, where extremists on both sides may become further isolated from the mainstream and thus become more radicalized. 

Others openly disagree with PayPal’s decision, and may end up electing to stop using the service as a whole in favor of other services. PayPal is hardly the only service for processing online transactions, and people actually have more options today than they ever have before. 

According to Toronto-based online marketer and software developer Gary Stevens of Hosting Canada, there are many alternatives to PayPal that actually improve upon it, saying, “PayPal doesn’t do everything perfectly and a lot of the alternatives occupy niche areas. These other companies also had the opportunity to find an issue with PayPal and remedy it in their own software.

Conclusion

While many politically-minded individuals delight at the ability to donate instantaneously to a campaign they support, many others worry about the long-term implications. Increasingly, social media companies, corporations and banks are limiting the use of their platforms for groups they claim promote violence.

We have also seen a fierce commitment from companies like Alphabet Inc's (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL) YouTube, Twitter Inc (NSYE: TWTR) and Facebook Inc (NASDAQ: FB) to combat what they deem to be disinformation that may affect political discourse and election results. This topic - which involves the concept of free speech as well as the role of corporate responsibility - is not an easy one to discuss. It will, however, certainly continue to be debated in the years to come. 

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