5 Aug 2019 UPDATE:
We set up this campaign in support of Carole Cadwalladr in the middle of July, just days after Arron Banks decided to sue Ms Cadwalladr for libel.
Like many others, we had been following the developments around Cambridge Analytica, Facebook, Leave.EU, Vote Leave etc. for many months, during which time we grew increasingly frustrated with the state of affairs in general, and with the treatment of Ms Cadwalladr by the likes of Arron Banks in particular. In fact, Arron Banks taking legal action to intimidate and bully was the last straw. We had to do something.
Over the weekend of 13-14 July we began to put together a crowdfunder and organise various assets towards it—thinking: if we were going to do it, it had to be done right! We contacted Ms Cadwalladr on 14 July with the news of our intention to run a crowdfunder and to let her know that we were ready and keen to start. We also explained that the basic idea was to provide a channel through which people could express and show their support.
In her response Mr Cadwalladr told us that she found the idea ‘incredibly kind’ and touching, but that she didn’t want people to waste money on Banks’ frivolous litigation. She also mentioned that she had a journalistic side project which she would be launching—but which wasn’t ready yet—and which she would like people to support. Nevertheless, Ms Cadwalladr left it up to us whether to proceed—and we did. With the release of The Great Hack coming up, etc. we felt that the time was right. So we made our crowdfunder live on the evening of 14 July—Ms Cadwalladr thanked us ‘for doing such a generous thing’. We were very happy to see her as one of our new followers on Twitter the day after.
We launched into running the campaign with alacrity and have been busy promoting our crowdfunder ever since, averaging about 18 Tweets a day, putting out a number of videos we put together (extracts from the Great Hack, from an LBC interview with the directors of the film on LBC with James O’Brien, from Ms Cadwalladrs’ recent TED appearance, from her Recode Decode interview with Kara Swisher, etc.), animated GIFs—inc. of supporters' comments—as well as various other digital artwork and images. At one point we were even organising a ‘Friends of…‘ private Telegram group to build an “army of campaigners” ready to make the campaign trend on Twitter. And there were various other innovative hacks/tricks (see, for example, our click-to-email solution via our dedicated website—oh, yes, we put up a website, too! ;)).
Throughout the above—and we’ll never forget the excitement of those days despite the time and other pressures we had to work under—there was one nagging issue though: people kept wondering if our campaign was legitimate. So naturally we wrote to Ms Cadwalladr asking if she could publicly acknowledge our campaign so as to reassure people as well as to give the campaign a boost. Whilst we appreciated that Ms Cadwalladr would have been very busy with tons on… what we didn’t realise was that something rather brilliant was actually happening behind the scenes: Ms Cadwalladr was getting ready to launch a GoFundMe in support of her upcoming journalistic project! Her ‘Democracy: The Fight Back’ fundraiser launched ten days after our campaign started, on 24 July 2019.
Has the launch of Ms Cadwalladr’s own fundraiser taken the wind from our sails? Naturally.
Do we mind? No!
One of the central ideas behind our fundraiser was to put in place a concrete way in which people could express their support. And now, with Ms Cadwalladr's own fundraiser in place, people could and have been doing that in spectacular fashion. Ms Cadwalladr only properly publicized her campaign on Fri, 2nd August—in a single Tweet—at which point her fundraiser was just over £2000. Over the weekend, in just two days, the amount donated has shot up to just over £175,000. By the time you read this, that figure will be higher still.
So what about the money raised by this campaign? First of all, it is clear that we are now unlikely to reach our (now reduced*) target. People will naturally—and understandably—head to GoFundMe and donate there. And we can neither continue to promote our campaign—we are 100% not treating this as a competition and would not want anyone to think/try to claim that either! Although we initially thought of refunding everyone who donated to this campaign, thanks to the helpful input of Mr. Peter Jukes in particular, we decided that it is probably easiest for everyone involved if we simply donate the relevant amount (see below for details) at the end of our campaign to Ms Cadwalladr’s GoFundMe campaign. So that’s what we will do. And if you have already donated to our crowdfunder but would rather have your money refunded at this stage, please just message us and we’ll be able to issue a refund.
So that’s our story in a nutshell.
Thank you for your support, time and understanding—we’d like to think that we’ve given it our best shot and that the quality of our campaign materials, etc. speaks for itself!
Oh, and one more thing: ;)
Well, it’s been an honour to try to do our bit! So, we end as we began, by saying:
"Thank you Ms Cadwalladr!" Please keep up the amazing and vitally important work you do!
And everyone else: please support The Fight Back!
PS: THIS CAMPAIGN WILL (STILL) END ON 11 AUG 2019. Technically you can still Donate here: And it’s up to you whether it’s Crowdfunder or GoFundMe—but donate you must! :)
* We reduced our target after we learnt of Ms Cadwalladr's campaign and as advised by Mr Jukes.
[The section below was published previously and is left here for the record]
TODAY WE ARE JOINING THE FIGHT BACK!
We are proud to officially support Carole Cadwalladr’s investigation into data, disinformation and democracy!
We have started our crowdfunder on 14 July 2019 ‘to show support and to say thanks to the award-winning journalist Carole Cadwalladr for her rigorous investigative journalism.’ ‘But is this an official fundraiser?’, asked a number of people online since.
We can now reveal that, yes, we did approach Ms Cadwalladr prior to our launch—once we had everything in place to begin. In her response, Ms Cadwalladr told us that although she didn’t want money toward the legal fees (see below) or for herself, she did have a project in mind she hoped people would be able to support.
Although Ms Cadwalladr wasn’t quite ready to launch her project at the time, she left it up to us whether to proceed with our campaign. We decided to go ahead and began our crowdfunder on 14 July 2019.
Now, two weeks later—and exactly half way through our campaign—we are honoured and very excited to officially join ‘the fight back’!
Over to Ms Cadwalladr:
PLEASE support the campaign NOW! Let’s help Ms Cadwalladr build her team to continue the fight back for democracy!
FYI: Details of the Legal Threat
Arron Banks formally filed libel proceedings against Ms Cadwalladr at the High Court of Justice on 12 July 2019.
The claim seeks damages, including aggravated damages, for libel in respect of allegedly defamatory statements made about Arron Banks by Ms Cadwalladr, in three separate instances:
- In a talk made by Ms Cadwalladr on 4 June 2018 [sic] at “The Convention: Never Again" event at the Emmanuel Centre in Westminster.
- In her TED talk "Facebook’s role in Brexit—and the threat to democracy”
- And in a tweet published by Ms Cadwalladr on 11 July 2019 in which Ms Cadwalladr retweeted a tweet by Alberto Nardelli commenting about Mr Banks.
Please visit our dedicated website to watch the above videos and read the tweets in one place. The submitted Claim Form is also available on the website.
On 13 July 2019 Ms Cadwalladr responded to the news of the litigation in a series of Tweets, as follows:
The above litigation we regard as simply the latest chapter in what appears to be a concerted effort to attack Ms Cadwalladr for her journalism. She has repeatedly been bullied online—without any meaningful consequences for the bullies.
Where's the money going?
The way the money raised through this campaign will be used is as follows:
95% of all money raised will be forwarded to Ms Cadwalladr for her 'fight back', to support her investigation into data, disinformation and democracy!
- The remainder (5%) will be used to
a) cover our costs in managing this fundraiser; and
b) to set up and run a dedicated website (cadwalladrvsbanks.com) aiming to support Ms Cadwalladr's work by providing a central resource dedicated to cataloguing and referencing her relevant work to date, as well as providing news and information on any developments and proceedings.
PLEASE support this campaign NOW! Let’s help Ms Cadwalladr continue the fight back for democracy!
About Carole Cadwalladr
Carole Cadwalladr is an author and features writer for The Observer.
Her first novel, The Family Tree, was shortlisted for the 2006 Commonwealth Writers' Prize, the Author's Club First Novel Award, the Waverton Good Read Award, and the Wales Book of the Year and was translated into several languages including Spanish, Italian, German, Czech, and Portuguese. The book was a Daily Mail Book Club pick and was dramatised as a five-part serial on BBC Radio 4. In the US, it was a New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice.
Ms Cadwalladr rose to international prominence in 2018 when she exposed the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal. In recent years she has written extensively on the illicit funding of Vote Leave in the 2016 EU membership referendum and on alleged links between Nigel Farage, the 2016 presidential campaign of Donald Trump and the Russian influence on the 2016 presidential election investigated in the United States.
To date, the Pulitzer nominated Ms Cadwalladr has won a number of journalism awards, including:
- British Journalism Awards’ Technology Journalism Award | December 2017
- The Orwell Prize for political journalism for her work "on the impact of big data on the EU Referendum and the 2016 US presidential election") | June 2018
- The Reporters without Borders "L’esprit de RSF" Award (for her work on subversion of democratic processes). | November 2018
- Political Studies Association Journalist of the Year (joint award with Amelia Gentleman) for her persistence and resilience in pursuing "investigative journalism on subjects such as personal data" | November 2018
- The annual Hay Festival's Medal for Journalism, "for her heroic and rigorous investigative journalism" | May 2019