Shortly after Mastercard got Jihad Watch founder Robert Spencer booted from Patreon, GoFundMe has engaged in a stealth campaign against him, secretly refunding pledges and effectively stealing $2,644 or more from him. It seems Silicon Valley is not satisfied with quashing free speech on Facebook or Twitter. Rather, some will actively seize funds from an individual without explanation.
Spencer, a bestselling author of 16 books and founder of the Islamist watchdog site Jihad Watch, had set up an account on the crowdfunding site Patreon to set up a TV studio and produce a show about the threat of radical Islamic terror across the world. Last week, Patreon closed his account without warning, and yesterday he announced a forthcoming lawsuit.
After Patreon shut down his account, Spencer took to GoFundMe, hoping to get his project off the ground. He cited the Patreon snub in the GoFundMe fundraiser, alleging that “MasterCard and Patreon deplatformed me because they are part of the effort to silence all voices that dissent from the Leftist agenda, both in the run-up to the 2018 election and beyond.”
The crowdfunding was successful, and Spencer reported raising more than $3,000 in a matter of days. But a funny thing happened on the way to withdrawing the funds…
“Yesterday I withdraw it, and got a notice from GoFundMe,” Spencer wrote in a Jihad Watch post. GoFundMe promised to send “$3,299.42 to your bank account.” The notice warned that deposits take “2 — 5 business days.” So far, so good.
On Tuesday, he received another email, however.
We’re sorry, but we have canceled your 08/21 withdrawal of $3,299.42 from WePay Payments.
The funds from this withdrawal have been added back to your balance.
Thank you for your understanding and we apologize for the trouble this may have caused.
If you have any questions or require additional assistance please let us know by responding directly to this email.
Even that wasn’t the end of the matter. “I also got multiple notices from GoFundMe; each informed me that a particular donation to me from a particular person had been refunded,” Spencer wrote. “When I asked for a reason why they had canceled my withdrawal and were refunding all the donations to me, they did not, of course, answer.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, the fundraiser had dropped to $655, meaning that GoFundMe had effectively stolen $2,644.42 from Robert Spencer.
When asked he would say GoFundMe effectively stole these funds from him, Spencer said, “Yes.”
“They were pledged to me voluntarily. I have people contacting me now and asking why their donation was refunded, and GoFundMe is having the audacity to say that they have to contact me to find out why,” the Jihad Watch founder told PJ Media.
Yes. They were pledged to me voluntarily. I have people contacting me now and asking why their donation was refunded, and GoFundMe is having the audacity to say that they have to contact me to find out why. https://t.co/KKzSwhtiLS
— Robert Spencer روبرت سبنسر (@jihadwatchRS) August 21, 2018
GoFundMe’s theft is beyond outrageous. It is one thing for Patreon to deny Robert Spencer a platform without explanation. It is entirely something else for a tech company to unilaterally invalidate voluntary contributions and prevent an individual from accessing freely donated funds.
Silicon Valley’s war against conservatives is hardly new. Facebook’s “hate speech” algorithm has censored the Declaration of Independence, Christian scholar Robert Gagnon, a German historian who said Islam is not part of German history, and many more.
PragerU sued Google/YouTube last October for targeted censorship of conservative voices, and YouTube continues to restrict access to PragerU videos, without censoring similar videos from other, less mainstream or less conservative, accounts. Last week, Facebook joined Google in targeting PragerU, shadow-banning their posts and deleting some of their videos.
As for donation services platforms, Amazon.com’s charity program Amazon Smile dropped D. James Kennedy Ministries and the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) for being named on the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)’s defamatory “hate group” list. D. James Kennedy Ministries has sued Amazon and the SPLC for this action. Last September, the credit card processing website Vanco Payments refused to work with the Ruth Institute, a small Roman Catholic pro-family nonprofit, due to its presence on the “hate group” list.
Spencer has also been named on the “hate group” list, and Patreon de-platformed the Proud Boys — an aggressively pro-Western Heritage group — for being a “hate group,” likely a reference to the SPLC list.
This summer, the SPLC paid Muslim reformer Maajid Nawaz $3.375 million in a defamation settlement after slamming him as an “anti-Islamic extremist.” This settlement encouraged organizations that have been unfairly maligned as hate groups to consider about 60 separate defamation lawsuits.
Neither Patreon nor Mastercard confirmed to PJ Media that they targeted Robert Spencer due to the SPLC “hate group” list, and GoFundMe did not respond to PJ Media’s request for comment on Spencer’s case.
Robert Spencer is currently working on a lawsuit after getting de-platformed by Patreon, but it seems like he will have quite the lawsuit on his hands in the case of GoFundMe.
Again, most of the previous cases involving tech companies targeting conservatives have centered around de-platforming: conservatives getting suspended on Facebook and Twitter, and even kicked off of Amazon Smile or Vanco Payments. Robert Spencer’s case against GoFundMe appears to be unique. It seems the Jihad Watch founder can allege not just discrimination and censorship, but outright theft.
In his Jihad Watch post about the situation, Spencer referenced the rise of Nazism in Germany. “I was always struck by how quickly — in just a matter of months — Germany went from being a free, democratic state to an authoritarian dictatorship, right under everyone’s noses in 1933. I always marveled at how fast and easy it was to destroy freedom.”
Chillingly, he added, “I don’t marvel any more. It is happening to us right now, and most people neither notice nor care.”
“The authoritarian Left is stamping out all dissenting voices,” Spencer declared. “It will soon be even worse: people who don’t hold the accepted opinions will not be able to hold jobs, have bank accounts, buy from various outlets, etc. Think this is hysterical and will never happen here? Watch.”