Twitter banned Milo Yiannopoulos from its platform after the Breitbart editor spearheaded a racist harassment campaign against black Saturday Night Live actor Leslie Jones, but at least one tech company is continuing to make money off of Yiannopoulos's racist, sexist, anti-Muslim, and anti-trans vitriol.
That tech company is GoFundMe, the sunny, do-gooder crowdfunding site with a brand most known for helping sick pets and injured people. As of January 4, GoFundMe users have crowdfunded, or are in the process of crowdfunding, nine of Yiannopoulos's college speaking events from Minnesota to Washington State. Together, these campaigns have raised a total of $13,820 for Yiannopoulos's campus security costs and venue deposits.
San Diego-based GoFundMe, which takes a five percent cut from its crowdfunding campaigns, has a user service policy that explicitly prohibits "the promotion of hate, violence, harassment, discrimination, terrorism, or intolerance of any kind relating to race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender or gender identity, or serious disabilities or diseases." But promoting intolerance based on race, ethnicity, and gender identity is at the root of Yiannopoulos's unimaginative celebrity. In recent weeks, Yiannopoulos has ratcheted up his anti-trans rhetoric, using one of his campus tours to target a trans student because of her gender identity. At a December event at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Yiannopoulos projected that student's face onto a screen and taunted her.
GoFundMe did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.
In October, Washington State University students successfully raised $500 on GoFundMe campaign to build a replica of Donald Trump's proposed US-Mexico border wall on their campus. The campaign organizers, who exceeded their goal, said they'd use excess funds to pay for an Yiannapoulos visit. (A separate WSU campaign for Yiannapoulos raised $1,305 out of a $1,000 goal.) Republican students at the University of Washington are also using GoFundMe to bring Yiannopoulos to campus on the same day as Trump's inauguration. As of January 4, they've raised $6,000 of their $7,000 goal.
When one GoFundMe user pointed out that raising money to host Yiannopoulos could contradict GoFundMe's user service agreement, UW College Republicans president Jessie Gamble replied: "No this is not promoting hate. These funds will pay to staff the UWPD to guarantee everyone is safe at our event, for a security deposit on the room so that Kane Hall is secure, etc. This money goes towards safety so that this can be a successful event!"
UW graduate student Denise Grollmus, who has been vocal about protesting Yiannopoulos's presence on campus, disagreed. "That's a total deflection," she said. "Why are you raising money for security costs? So you can bring somebody in who shouts hateful things? They're raising money to bring Milo Yiannopoulos to campus to engage in hate speech and promote his white supremacist agenda."
In an event update posted five days after her response to the terms of service question, Gamble wrote that the first 30 people who contributed $100 to the event would receive free "Make America Great Again" hats and that $250 donors would receive an opportunity to meet Yiannopoulos in person.
"This, along with the $250 VIP pass on the gofundme allows us to actually have the event, as the security other miscellaneous fees are costing us nearly $7000," Gamble wrote.
UPDATE: As of today, UW Republicans have exceeded their $7,000 Milo Yiannopoulos target by $2,300, thanks to an appearance on KIRO radio and GoFundMe.