Facebook’s Birthday Fundraiser feature raises questions about tax fraud. Why are people always so angry and jump to conclusions on Facebook, especially on a mere speculation?

Facebook is my least favorite platform, but it used to be one of my favorites. Back in 2007, when I made my account, I used it to connect with my fellow high school classmates, especially those who I was romantically interested in. People were barely on there and since you had to use your real name, parents were afraid of letting their kids use it (with good reason, too – although now those same parents are using their real names while their kids use pseudonyms). We wrote on each other’s “walls,” wrote “graffiti,” sent each other compliments and buttons through these adorable widgets that came with the platform. Facebook wasn’t collecting our information (as far as I know) and the most serious drama was when someone rated you poorly on “Hot or Not.”

Otherwise, Facebook was a safe place. It was a place for us to connect. We couldn’t yet reply to wall posts. We couldn’t even comment on anything or reply to anything. There was no such thing as events, messages, or even a News Feed.

Once the adults came on (or we became adults, it happened at the same time), it all went to shit. Facebook became about sharing articles that commonly fall into three categories:

1 – Nonsensical Opinionated Clickbait Medical Articles

Basically stuff that no one has actually read the original study for, some immoral journalist twisted the headline and entire article to make it about something totally different. People share it and immediately think of it as truth because it uses the words “science” and “studies.”

“Studies show that tequila makes you live longer.”
“Good News: Scientists say that sugar is good for you.”
“Sorry, Hippies: Coconut oil is bad for you.” (I’m clearly still not over this one, but might I reiterate this was eventually a win for the health blogger community and it made the American Heart Association look really, REALLY bad)

2 – Cute memes and feel-good shit-writing

These belong in the same category because sometimes they’re nice, sometimes they are annoying, but regardless, you don’t need a brain to understand them. No one can get mad about them. I like to share these the most. Usually shared by your cute, middle-aged coworker who is suspiciously positive about everything.

“This woman became best friends with a bumblebee”
“This kangaroo in Australia knows how to play soccer”
“The cutest animal friend photos to make your day.”
“You may be an empath if…”
“30 signs you’re an introverted extrovert” (usually followed by the caption “OMG THIS IS SO ME”)

3 – Politics

No one likes to talk about politics unless you’re really delving into serious discussion on something you’re very well educated in with someone else who is also very well-educated in this particular topic and both of you agree because otherwise, politics suck. This isn’t all that makes people angry though. You would think that would be the answer, other than people claiming that veganism is the cure to cancer in Number One (dude, it might be – I don’t know).

Now that Facebook is just this plus people bragging about only the good things in their lives (I just had a baby as a financially stable human! I married my best friend! I make six figures working at Google! Thanks Mom and Dad for buying me a whole fucking house in this shit economy! …You know, typical Facebook shit), Facebook really sucks.

One thing I recently discovered about Facebook was its Birthday Fundraiser feature. I’m all for donating to charity and volunteering. I usually put in a decent amount of volunteer hours a month doing various things (usually parrot rescue lately). I’ve been volunteering since I was a kid, sometimes for fun (giving poor kids presents on Christmas is awesome), and sometimes because I was forced to (we needed 60 hours of volunteering in order to graduate from my high school), but I usually dig it and try to support good organizations as often as I can.

I had thought the Birthday Fundraiser feature was awesome until I tried to donate to one. One of the few causes I support and continue to advocate for is the dismantling of the prison industrial complex. (Usually poor) children and fathers are taken out of society for minuscule reasons in order to work in the U.S. prison system. I have gone into this somewhat at length, but this is not what my blog is about, so I’ll stop here. Regardless, keeping people out of prison is something I am passionate about.

For a friend’s birthday, he opted to start a fundraiser for juvenile inmates and I was all about donating. I clicked the button only to find myself still on Facebook asking me to give them my credit card information. I almost grabbed my card until I reconsidered.

Why am I giving money to Facebook and not the non-profit organization directly?

From what I know about website design and maintenance (which is a decent amount considering you’re reading a 6-year-old blog and this isn’t my only website) is that you can easily use cookies to track something like this if you were to donate to these organizations via their website, which means that it’s not even close to impossible to update the cute widget they use to track donations by redirecting you to the organization’s website.

So… why is Facebook, the corporation, asking me for my credit card info?

This means that Facebook gets the money for the fundraiser, which I speculated could mean (I want to note here for anyone confused that “could mean” literally means that I am speculating. Speculation means that you have considered an idea, but you have either not done research on that idea nor are you claiming that it is true. It means you are questioning the idea and breaking it down in order to discuss it) one of two things (or really, both): Facebook is taking a percentage of the donation or Facebook is giving to the organization in their corporate name to avoid spending any taxes entirely with an extreme deduction.
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I posted about this on Facebook, expecting others to be just as concerned as I was about Facebook not paying taxes. However, the same people who have posted time and again about how rich people don’t pay their taxes and how capitalism is evil and how there are soooo many loopholes in US taxes that benefit the rich started jeering at me.

Yes, I got comments ranging from “this is ridiculous,” to “please read Facebook’s Terms and Agreements,” to “So… it’s a win-win situation?” Most of these comments seemed extremely volatile despite my merely spreading speculative theories. Not a single comment was calculated or intelligent.

People seemed more concerned with my “claim” (it wasn’t a claim) that Facebook was taking a portion of the profits, which was debunked, instead of the much more alarming “Facebook is using your charitable donations to avoid paying taxes.”

No one seemed to care. They claimed that I “hate charity” and that I’m a bad person and blah blah blah. It was very concerning, so I deleted the post… in order to further explain here… that I don’t think it’s bad that you want to help other people. I’m not trying to hurt your ego or tell you that you are a bad person for using this feature.

I’m just saying that because you are donating directly to Facebook, that donation is in their name, not yours, and considering how many people have these fundraisers, that is millions of dollars “FACEBOOK” is donating to charity so they can have a tax deduction, which means that although they make millions of dollars, none of that goes back into our enormous federal deficit, none of that goes into our infrastructure, none of that goes towards education or healthcare, when approximately 15-30% of your income does.

Facebook, who should owe the U.S. government (and other foreign governments) millions of dollars in taxes gets to avoid paying all (or most) of it because they are using your money as a deduction.

They could have just used cookies, but they don’t.

This. Should. Alarm. You. This idea should make you question things and not anger you, holy shit…. If you do not think that is evil, then I think you should probably stop posting political articles saying that you think avoiding taxes is evil in other contexts, because this is the same, but hidden under the guise of “charity.”

Maybe I’m wrong. I haven’t read the entire ever-changing Terms on Facebook’s website. I have no idea how they are selling my information now or what exactly they do with your money. None of us do, clearly.

What bothers me so much is that people continue to jump to conclusions and get angry over tiny things, especially things they do not understand. You should never be angry at speculation. Speculation is like an idea someone comes up with when they’re stoned. The only reason you should be angry is if you believe it and it scares you and maybe it makes you question yourself. “How much money did I give to Facebook to help them avoid paying taxes?” Maybe that’s a question you’re asking yourself, but attacking me for merely introducing the idea is bonkers.

Read between the lines. Listen to your mind. Sometimes your heart is a little preoccupied.

I still love the idea of giving to a charity in someone’s name in lieu of gifts. However, maybe next time you can donate to that charity on their website and send your friend a screenshot of the receipt.

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Related Content:
Why I Don’t Talk About Politics on Social Media Anymore | The Barefoot Aya
An Open Letter to Those Who Can’t Handle Me At My Worst | The Barefoot Aya
Should You Start a Birthday Fundraiser on Facebook? | Moneyish (From 2017, says that Facebook does take a percentage of donations)
Yes, More Facebook Friends Are Asking You For Money | NYT (Also from 2017, highlights FB doing away with fees for non-profits and another issue: keeping people on FB for more profits)
I Am Not Having a Facebook Fundraiser, So Do Me This Birthday Favor Instead | The Color Carmine (I LOVE these alternative ideas)

Featured Photo: Gravity Falls