Have you seen the viral GoFundMe campaign floating around that vows to buy and publish the web histories of every politician and exec who is helping internet providers sell your data? Yeah, don’t give that dude your money.
I’m all for wacky clever revenge plots, but this one just looks like a straight up scam. Whether self-proclaimed privacy activist Adam McElhaney means well or not (and he may), this campaign just doesn’t make a lot of sense. And yet it’s already made over $110,000!
First of all, it’s not like this sort of thing is a true open market where absolutely anything goes. Private individuals can’t just waltz in, slam their money on a table (what table??) and demand targeted, de-anonymized internet data on individual users, successful GoFundMe campaign or not. Sure, advertisers can buy web user data, but that’s generally done in aggregate, and they have existing relationships that let them broker these kind of deals to begin with, sketchy as they may be.
Second, I mean, yeah, it’s hypocritical. If you care about privacy, like really believe in it, throwing your ideals out the window for a half-baked revenge plot isn’t a very good look. And like I said, I like revenge just fine. But it’s a dish best served cold, and anyone who gives a shit about privacy is still worked up from yesterday’s nonsense. And, by the way, the GoFundMe wants to target not only the politicians and the telecom fat cats, but also their families (check the fine print). Not cool.
If you don’t believe me, then maybe you’ll listen to Max Temkin, one of the creators of Cards Against Humanity, a company known for its often quite clever and wildly absurd crowdfunding schemes, like that time they dug a literal money pit with your money. Dude apparently had the same idea, but even he thinks this GoFundMe situation is sketchy AF. This is coming from a guy who is literally sending potatoes to members of Congress.
Apparently this campaign doesn’t raise any red flags for GoFundMe, which provided TechCrunch with this statement:
“The campaign doesn’t violate our terms of service. We are working directly with the campaign organizer to ensure the funds are managed appropriately. We encourage the campaign organizer to be transparent and continually provide updates on the campaign page.”
We’ll update when we hear more from GoFundMe about what that means exactly or if McElhaney responds to our requests for comment. Like we said, he might mean well, or he might not. It doesn’t really matter. Save your cash for the battles that do — they’re probably just around the corner.