CoFundMe and Canadian truckers: what’s wrong with it

CoFundMe and Canadian truckers: what’s wrong with it

⚠️ Not your keys, not your money.

Did you think this were relevant only to the people living in autocratic countries ?

? Canadian truckers protesting against the government’s vaccine mandate have been making the news for many days now. Many people have donated over C$10M ($8M) to their movement, known as FreedomConvoy2022, via GoFundMe website.

Since then, however, things turned sour: truckers blocking the streets of Ottawa are disrupting local businesses, and the residents are not happy to hear them honking horns and even in some cases exhibiting aggressive behaviour.

It’s not unusual for an initially peaceful demonstration to heat up, and the Ottawa police launched a “major public order operation” on Sunday against the demonstrators.

So far nothing extraordinary, were it not for the one thing: referring to the police reports of violence (3), GoFundMe stopped accepting new donations and took over the donations already done. C$1M was released to organisers, but the remaining C$9M was intended to be distributed to charities.

However, donor backlash was so harsh that GoFundMe has changed its plans and decided to automatically refund the donors.

One might see a happy end in this, but to us it looks disturbing. Whatever one’s opinion on the vaccines or the demonstrators, it should not be up to a crowdfunding platform to decide whether the movement should be shut down, and it is most certainly not up to them to dispose of the donators’ money.

Police must take care of illegal activities, while crowdfunding platforms must gather donations and transfer them to their beneficiary. However, people are emotional, and public opinion and politics interfere far too often with the services conceived as neutral.

This situation is a reminder that as long as your money is managed by a third party, it is never truly yours, even if you live in an exemplary democratic country with a long-standing tradition of liberalism ?

Luckily, we are no longer obliged to trust someone to handle our money: the blockchain is controlled by its code, not politics, and the future of crowdfunding may well be in crypto.