Culture

Why One Woman Started A Crowdfunding Campaign To Buy Twitter 

by Kate Ryan

August 23, 2017
Valerie Plame Wilson. Image via crystal.village/Wikimedia Commons.

You’d expect most retirees to pick up gardening or find a bridge club to pass the time in their well-earned leisure years. But in ex-CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson’s case, her hobby of choice is crowdfunding $1 billion to buy Twitter and delete the president of the United States’ account.

With a tweet on that very social media platform, Wilson announced her ambitious goal, squeezing in a dig at Twitter executives in the process. “If @Twitter executives won't shut down Trump's violence and hate, then it's up to us,” she wrote on Aug. 18, adding, “#BuyTwitter #BanTrump.”

Wilson launched her campaign on the crowdfunding website GoFundMe. The campaign description reads in part:

“Donald Trump has done a lot of horrible things on Twitter. From emboldening white supremacists to promoting violence against journalists, his tweets damage the country and put people in harm's way. But threatening actual nuclear war with North Korea takes it to a dangerous new level. It’s time to shut him down.”

Wilson has raised less than $20,000 so far, which is pretty far from $1 billion. Even if she does reach her initial goal, it’d still be (as of Wednesday) about $5 billion shy of the necessary amount to buy a controlling stake in the company, Time reports. That being said, a billion-dollar sum would make her Twitter’s largest shareholder and, at the very least, give her a seat at the table.

In response, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told major news outlets in an emailed statement, “[Wilson’s] ridiculous attempt to shut down his first amendment is the only clear violation and expression of hate and intolerance in this equation.” Twitter has so far declined to comment on the situation.

Of all the causes you could donate money to, this one is probably not the most effective or efficient. On the plus side, Wilson writes in the campaign description that “100% of the balance of proceeds will be donated to Global Zero, a nonprofit organization leading the resistance to nuclear war” should she fail to reach her billion-dollar goal. As silly as this campaign may seem on its surface, it does raise several thoughtful questions few have taken the time to consider. For instance, why hasn’t Twitter entertained the idea of banning Trump from its platform? Surely, his incitement of hate speech (and plain, unadulterated hate speech) go against community standards.

Of course, Twitter continues to fail spectacularly at weeding out sexist trolls, racist commentary, and death threats, so it’s unlikely they’ll do anything about the president bringing us one step closer to nuclear war. Though there’s something else beyond complacency that might be influencing their decision. According to Bloomberg News, deleting Trump’s Twitter account could cause a $2 billion dip for the company — about one-fifth of its overall value. So it’s highly unlikely we’ll see Trump’s unintelligible tweets disappear anytime soon. In the meantime, we can all do our part by ditching the platform altogether. According to the Atlantic’s Derek Thompson, tweeting is even more useless than you might think.

Oh, and about the whole ex-CIA tidbit: A government official leaked Wilson’s identity as an undercover agent in 2003 during George W. Bush’s first term in office. According to the New York Times, the official leaked her CIA status in an attempt to undermine her husband, Joe Wilson, after he publicly denounced Bush for invading Iraq. In 2008, she published a book with Simon & Schuster titled, “Fair Game: How a Top CIA Agent Was Betrayed by Her Own Government.”

Share image via crystal.village/Wikimedia Commons.

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Why One Woman Started A Crowdfunding Campaign To Buy Twitter