Zynga Gets Slammed Over Haiti Donations – Deserved or Exaggerated?

If a company is not entirely transparent in it’s charitable dealings, it could cost it’s reputation, especially when inaccurate rumors start to spread.

via Mathew Ingram at GigaOm:

If you want to see a Twitter mob in its larval stage, just do a search on Zynga or Farmville and Haiti and you will see one emerging over a report that the social-gaming company kept 50 percent of the money that it raised in donations for the country in the wake of a devastating earthquake. The report originally appeared in a Brazilian magazine called Superinteressante, which did a feature on Zynga and Farmville and mentioned in the piece that it had only given 50 percent of what it raised to Haiti. That was in turn picked up by a leading Brazilian newspaper called Folha de Sao Paulo , which said that Zynga had admitted to only sending 50 percent of the money it raised for Haiti to that country.

That story got written about in several places around the Web, including at Social Media Today (in a post that has since been removed and replaced with a different one featuring an altered headline) as well as at the opinion site True/Slant, where Marcelo Ballve — a former Associated Press reporter in Brazil — summarized the Falho story about how Zynga had misled Farmville players into thinking 100 percent of their donations would be going to Haiti for earthquake relief (he has since posted an update). The story was also written up at Gawker, which also repeated the allegations.

The Folha story, however, blurs together two Farmville campaigns to raise money for Haiti: One was set up before the earthquake, and specifically said that only 50 percent of the money raised would be sent to Haiti (a screenshot is embedded below). The second, which involved the purchase within the game of special “white corn” for a user’s farm, said that 100 percent of the proceeds would be sent to earthquake relief. According to an emailed statement from a Zynga spokesperson that I’ve embedded below, this is exactly what happened (a similar statement has been posted at the bottom of both the True/Slant post and the Folha story, and referred to by Gawker, but not by Social Media Today, although the latter has since posted an update and apology). The initial campaign for Haiti raised $1.2-million for the country, and the subsequent “white corn” campaign raised an additional $1.5-million.

Meanwhile, dozens of Twitter messages are still being posted every minute (based on a recent survey of the social network) saying that Zynga “admits to keeping half the money it raised for Haiti,” despite the repeated efforts by Zynga CEO Mark Pincus to rebut such claims through his own Twitter account. The eagerness with which people seem to believe such claims could have something to do with the language barrier between the initial reports and those who have repeated them — but it could also be a result of some negative press that Zynga has received in the past, alleging “scammy” behavior related to lead-generation offers within its games.

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user Rusty Boxcars.

via gigaom.com

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Is this backlash deserved or exaggerated?

Personally I was turned off by Zynga’s Haiti campaign before I finished reading the first paragraph of the Press Release that hit the wires 48 hours after the January 12th earthquake:

Starting tonight, Zynga (www.zynga.com) will run a special relief campaign in three of its top games that reach over 40 million users daily.

It seemed to me that this blatantly took advantage of PR Newswire and others’ waiving of distribution fees for Haiti earthquake-related news.

I was speculating but I’ve always been skeptical of such campaigns by hard-to-trust startups. I was impressed by Zynga’s earlier partnership with the World food Programme over the holidays but hadn’t seen any mention of its results.

You can’t be too transparent when acting in the wake of any disaster. While Zynga made no mistake in clearly mentioning it’s user base (both daily and monthly) the press release — especially if it was distributed gratis — should have elaborated on Zynga’s existing relationship with WFP to avoid any fingerpointing / confusion.

Radiohead Raises $572,000 for Haiti with Oxfam America at the Henry Fonda Music Box

Share photos on twitter with TwitpicLate Thursday Radiohead announced that it would perform a charity show benefiting the survivors of the devastating January 12th earthquake in Haiti. The tickets were made available via a Ticketmaster auction which ended with a final minimum bid of $475 (meaning many secured their tickets for $450). Some went above and beyond as the proceeds were going 100% to Haiti via Oxfam America and the high bid was $2,000 per ticket (for either 2 or 4 tickets), according to the band.

All in all more than $572,000 was raised and it was an unforgettable, intimate gig for all at the 1,300-capacity theater. Here’s the setlist:

Video from the show…

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Bono Bloody Bono – Ten for the Next Ten – NYTimes.com

Intellectual Property Developers

Caution! The only thing protecting the movie and TV industries from the fate that has befallen music and indeed the newspaper business is the size of the files. The immutable laws of bandwidth tell us we’re just a few years away from being able to download an entire season of “24” in 24 seconds. Many will expect to get it free.

A decade’s worth of music file-sharing and swiping has made clear that the people it hurts are the creators — in this case, the young, fledgling songwriters who can’t live off ticket and T-shirt sales like the least sympathetic among us — and the people this reverse Robin Hooding benefits are rich service providers, whose swollen profits perfectly mirror the lost receipts of the music business.

We’re the post office, they tell us; who knows what’s in the brown-paper packages? But we know from America’s noble effort to stop child pornography, not to mention China’s ignoble effort to suppress online dissent, that it’s perfectly possible to track content. Perhaps movie moguls will succeed where musicians and their moguls have failed so far, and rally America to defend the most creative economy in the world, where music, film, TV and video games help to account for nearly 4 percent of gross domestic product. Note to self: Don’t get over-rewarded rock stars on this bully pulpit, or famous actors; find the next Cole Porter, if he/she hasn’t already left to write jingles.

Bono’s insinuation that content must be tagged, tracked, and protected in the interest of the creator is an uneven (if not borderline fascist) suggestion.

The biggest problem with this is that bandwidth regulation affects not just entertainment (whether downloaded, streamed, for pay or for free) but everything else that operates in the digital space.

Which includes education, charity, government, and most ironically, the development, production, and broadcast of creative content itself.

Read up on Net Neutrality Bono. The movie industry is booming (in spite of a relative abundance of poor content). But the service providers aren’t just stuffing their pockets with profit, they’re limiting both consumers and creators by throttling bandwidth.

Don’t wage war on the Internet, Bono. Talk about putting your back up against the wall… please don’t go singing that song.

Please comment at ADigitalAge.com

Posted via web from Welcome to the Digital Age

Social Media / Social Good Panel at SXSW

The highlight of my long weekend at South by Southwest Interactive was the lunchtime panel and mixer hosted by Tikva Morowati of Porter Novelli and Jeff Pulver at Stubb’s — Social Media for the Social Good.

social media for social good panel at sxsw Jeff Pulver, Beth Kanter, Stacey Monk, David Armano, Randi Zuckerberg, James Young, Scott Goodstein,Tikva Morowati
(l-r) Jeff Pulver, Beth Kanter, Stacey Monk, David Armano, Randi Zuckerberg, James Young, Scott Goodstein,Tikva Morowati

 

Many more recent studies and examples of this including this pdf white paper. Geoff Livingston is even teaching a class on Social Media for Social Good at Georgetown this semester.

Below, the rough takeaway — er, walkaway by myself and Shira Lazar:

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