GoFundMe bans campaigns raising money to promote misinformation about vaccines

GoFundMe is reportedly banning campaigns from its platform that raise money to spread anti-vaccination messages.

Bobby Whithorne, a spokesman for the crowdfunding platform, told the Daily Beast in a report published Friday that campaigns raising money "to promote misinformation about vaccines" violate GoFundMe's terms of service, adding that such campaigns will be removed from the site.

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“We are conducting a thorough review and will remove any campaigns currently on the platform,” Whithorne told the Daily Beast. 

The Hill has reached out to GoFundMe for comment.

The crackdown on anti-vaccination content comes as other online platforms like YouTube and Pinterest have begun to remove channels and posts from their websites that promote misinformation to discredit vaccinations.

Whithorne told the outlet that such campaigns were “extremely rare,” but said GoFundMe has already removed several fundraisers from the site promoting misinformation about vaccines.

The Daily Beast found in its individual review of GoFundMe fundraisers that campaigns benefiting from or being promoted by anti-vaccination groups have raised at least $170,000 on the site in the past four years.

The outlet reportedly found that Larry Cook, a prominent anti-vaccination activist, collected nearly $80,000 on various GoFundMe campaigns.

Another page promoted by Health Freedom Idaho and Sarasota for Vaccine Choice was reportedly found to have raised more than $25,000 for a vaccine exemption attorney’s legal defense fund, according to the Daily Beast.

Melissa Sullivan, the executive vice president at Health Choice Connecticut, which reportedly raised more than $2,000 on the site under its former name, Vaccine Choice CT, told the publication that she felt GoFundMe’s move to ban campaigns promoting the anti-vaccination movement was a “violation of the First Amendment.”

According to the outlet, Sullivan also accused the crowdfunding site of “feeling pressure from Big Pharma.”

“Whether you believe it’s true or not, everyone is entitled to their opinion,” Sullivan told the publication. “I would hope they would reconsider. This movement needs to be able to get funds in order to fight pharma giants like Merck and other vaccine manufacturers."