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A Clarification from Social Media Today: Zynga, Farmville, and Charitable Giving
Posted on March 4th 2010
Earlier this week, Social Media Today published two brief posts about a controversy surrounding charitable campaigns initiated by Zynga, maker of the popular Farmville game.
The controversy originated with a report in the Brazilian publication, Folha. You can find a lengthy and detailed examination of the issues here. But to summarize, suffice it to say that there was some debate as to whether the mechanics of making donations during gameplay were confusing, potentially resulting in some of the money intended for relief to instead be applied to users' accounts for the gaming itself.
Regretfully, the two relevant posts published here on Social Media Today did not accurately articulate the nature of that controversy. Worse, the tone of the posts implied that Zynga had admitted to wrongdoing, casting the company in a negative light.
In the best of circumstances, it's challenging to ensure 100% accuracy on a site that publishes user contributed content. What makes this situation particularly unfortunate is that, at the center of this controversy is a sincere, well-intentioned, and ultimately wildly successful campaign by Zynga to help those in urgent need in Haiti. This campaign that was not the product of Zynga the corporation so much as a product of the game players and the people who work there, people who saw suffering and wanted to do something to make it better.
Even the best-administered charitable campaigns are imperfect. We know that Zynga is looking closely at how it can make future initiatives like this more transparent and efficient. Most recently they ran a campaign in which they gave 100% of all donations for Haitian earthquake relief, raising approximately $1.5 million, a staggering figure.
Zynga, of course, contacted Social Media Today and asked us to address the issue. But we want to make it clear that this clarification is not written under any duress. The fact that we published material that muddied the waters in a way that called into question people's best intentions and, worse, could make people leery of being generous in the future, is absolutely unacceptable to us. And we want to do what we can to make it right.
We're usually proud to see the posts on this site heavily tweeted and shared. Not so the two problematic posts at issue here. I hope everyone reading this will help us by giving this post equal “burn." And here at Social Media Today, we will continue to do all we can to live up to the values of our members.