A Change.org petition calling for George Floyd to be held accountable for his killing has been criticised for its misleading fundraising features. In a Media post Tuesday, more than 90 former Change.org employees called on the company to donate any related funds to Floyd’s family and organizers, rather than the campaign itself. “
The Change.org petition, launched by activists shortly after Floyd’s death, called on Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and local attorney Mike Freeman to charge police officers involved in Floyd’s death. Since the petition was launched, one policeofficer has been charged with second-degree murder and the other has been dismissed. But as protests against police violence have escalated around the world, the number of petitions has grown, garnering more than 17 million signatures as of the time of writing.
The criticism stems from Change.org’s “fundraising to join” feature, which seems to have surprised some organizers. Once a user adds his or her name to the petition, he or she is invited to raise money to fund the event’s further promotion. For Freud’s petition, more than half a million people raised money, according to Change.org. The money funded more than 100 billboards in New York City and Minneapolis, each showing photos of Freud and links to petitions.
To critics, the money should go to Freud’s family or the ongoing protest movement. According to Media’s post, the donations were intended to promote the petition and Change.org itself, drawing money from those who are accountable to blacks and have the ability to engage in deeper, long-term, community-based activities.
Change.org says the fundraising system is enabled by default. The petition organizer sits back-office through the service, and the organizers of the Floyd petition and her guardian are informed of the promotion model and how the funds are used. The same system has caused confusion in the past, with organizers sometimes directly appealing to supporters not to donate and making it clear that they will not be able to access the funds raised by their campaigns. After Media’s post, Change.org told The Verge that Change.org temporarily disabled the fundraising feature of some of the site’s biggest petitions.