why retweet donation is despicable

It all started with Haiti. The earthquake there was devastating, destroying thousands or poorly built homes and killing an estimated 200,000 people. Such violence and destruction are unheard of in many first world nations, and so when they happen, we tend to react. Positively, for the most part. Those who are on the front lines send relief and aid to these nations, while people like me — middle class wage earners — do our part by donating money to various organizations who are sending the relief.

Donating to these organizations is key. It is our duty as a country of means, a nation of helpers, to do our part globally to ensure the health and good will of other countries. Plainly put, if we don’t help, it makes us look bad, both on a global scale, and on a moral scale.

But what bugs me about this cycle of donation is how it’s being done in the Tech World, specifically, on Twitter and Tumblr, where certain people set up “reblog donations,” which work like this: if you reblog their message, they will donate $X amount of money to whatever relief organization they choose. Thus, the more people that reblog or retweet their message, the more money is donated.

I think this is awful, because it is, at best, showing off, and at worst, not doing 100% of their part. Right now, as the earthquake off the eastern coast of Japan continues to wreak havoc in that nation, I see on Twitter a message from Bing, the Microsoft search engine, which says:

This means that if 100,000 people retweet this message, Bing will give $100,000 to Japan relief efforts. But it also means that if only 50,000 people retweet the message, Bing will only give $50,000. Now I think I speak for everyone when I say: What kind of messed up bullshit is that? First off, Bing, you’re Microsoft, you have a hell of a lot more money than $100,000 that could be donated. Second, JUST DONATE THE ENTIRE THING, YOU FUCKWADS. Why do we have to engage in a game to get you to donate the maximum amount of money?

You know why? Because they are trying to showcase their product. It has nothing to do with donating and everything to do with getting 100,000+ people to look at their Twitter feed, their website, etc. It has nothing to do with the death and destruction happening in Japan, Haiti, Sumatra, etc. Instead of having the balls to say, “We are donating X amount towards the relief efforts,” they are saying, “Please pay attention to us and we will reward you indirectly. But only if enough people pay attention to us!” How awful. People are dead, houses razed, and we’re trying to get companies to donate their full amount of money, rather than them just doing it. Just donate the money, for Chrissakes! How simple could that be?! Don’t say, “We’ll donate up to $100,000 based on the number of retweets we get,” say, “We are donating $100,000 dollars to relief efforts. No, make that $200,000, because we are not greedy corporate bastards, we are people who care about human life.”

It’s not a fucking game. It’s life.

How do they even track how many people retweeted them? Do they have some kind of “donation scoreboard” software that they make up? How do you track 100,000 people’s retweets?!

Hell, why not just go one step further, Bing, and donate $1 for every person who does a search for “Japanese earthquake” on your precious website, which apparently just steals Google’s search results.

Here’s my point, people: If you have $100,000 ready to give to a charity, give it to the charity. Don’t force people to make you give the entire amount through ludicrous means. That’s not fair to the millions of Japanese who desperately need help searching for their loved ones amidst the rubble and carnage of one of the worst earthquakes in recorded history.

And for the record, I donated $10 through the Red Cross via my phone. I didn’t do to Twitter and say, “I will donate $1 per every retweet of this message (up to $10),” because I’m not a greedy asshole (though I am kind of a penniless one).

4 Comments

  1. Could not agree more. Seeing these tweets pop up everywhere and it bothers me greatly. $100,000 for Microsoft is nothing. Plus, if you retweet that stuff, you are essentially advertising for them, for free—which is at the very least, 1/2 of their motivation. Just donate some of your money people, and ask others to do so as well.

  2. Yep. And today Wendy’s is doing the same damn thing, except each RT gives $0.50 for kids in foster care. I replied and referenced this piece.

  3. Chris

    I’ve been in fund-raising for more than 20 years and there is almost always give-and-take with corporate gifts.

    I don’t have any idea what the details were with the ‘bing’ retweet crap, but I can tell you that this sort of thing is often viewed as (and effective as) promoting the specific charity and soliciting additional support. Think of it as the “mind numb” effect– Well, So-and-so picked XYZ Charity, so it must be a good one, I’ll give to them. Or, “Well, I was going to give anyway, so I might as do this and it will double my gift.”

    In my experience, the corporations often quietly (and unofficially) pledge the full amount regardless of the response.

    While I’m not a fan of joint venture projects, they are effective tools for non-profits.

    Like you, I’d prefer pure philanthropy; but the reality is those instances are few and far between when working with major corporations. The charity opts to allow the corporation’s gratuitous self-promotion in an effort to further their mission.

    It’s not the perfect world, but it is the one we have.

    Thank you very much for your thoughts and passion. I hope your post spreads like wildfire and the corporations learn that the general public aren’t as stupid as they want us to be.

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