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Kickstarter Rethinks Campaign Acceptance Policy After Gosnell Backlash
Andrew Drexel, Contributing Writer
Kickstarter, the predominant crowdsourcing platform, announced earlier this month that it’s altering its project submission rules so that fundraising campaigns can launch without the previously-mandatory approval of a staff member.
Called “Launch Now,” the new feature “gives creators a simple choice: go ahead and launch your project whenever you’re ready, or get feedback from one of our Community Managers first.” 60% of projects have access to the feature, and that number will increase in the coming weeks, according to Kickstarter CEO Yancey Strickler.
Some are concerned that this further exposes Kickstarter and its users to fraudulent campaigns. However, a number of such fraudulent campaigns have already existed, despite the staff member screening process. To replace the human screening process, Kickstarter is rolling out a sophisticated algorithm to preemptively identify potentially fraudulent projects. The Kickstarter community will also continue to play its part in identifying fraudulent campaigns and notifying the staff accordingly.
These changes are welcome for those who wish to fund their creative projects. In April, the creators of the movie “FrackNation” sought to crowdfund their new project, which they called “A historic crowdfunding campaign for a movie about America’s biggest serial killer, abortionist Kermit Gosnell and the media cover-up.” They went first to Kickstarter, who delayed in permitting “Gosnell” from being produced, forcing the producers to go to IndieGoGo, known for its hands-off project approval policy, for their fundraising needs.
The controversy surrounding the issue was born of the conflict between Kickstarter and the movie’s producers. The reason given by Kickstarter for the delay was that Kickstarter found language such as “1000s of babies stabbed to death” to be too provocative and contrary to Community Guidelines. In response, the then-aspiring producers of “Gosnell” wrote:
“Kickstarter has hosted and promoted 16 projects about stabbing including the chance to contribute to make Stab 1, 2 and 3. Kickstarter has hosted five projects about incest, one project with the “C” word in the project description, 44 projects about rape and 28 projects with the word F**k or F**king in the title. Some of these projects were based on true stories, some were works of fiction, but all were allowed onto Kickstarter.
“It appears that the Gosnell project is being censored not because it offends ‘Community Guidelines,’ but because it will shine an unwelcome spotlight on some of the darker realities of abortion. It is clear this is not welcome on Kickstarter. It is ironic that Kickstarter is censoring a project that is attempting to expose censorship. You are trying to force us to tell the stories of one of the biggest criminals in American history but banning us from describing his crimes. We had thought Kickstarter was a place where all creative projects, ideas and opinions were welcomed and could bloom. It is disappointing to learn that this is not true and that the truth is not welcome on your platform. Telling the truth shouldn’t violate any Community Guidelines.”
Eventually, Kickstarter did permit the crowdfunding project to go forward, but the delay forced them to go to IndieGoGo, where the movie surpassed its $2 million funding goal. Check back at Movieguide® for more updates on the upcoming Gosnell movie.