Bitcoin Gives Peace a Chance: Interview with Angela Keaton of AntiWar.com
Known for confrontation and controversy, pro-peace alternative media site, AntiWar.com’s radical approaches to activism include heavy use of Bitcoin.
AntiWar.com has been a consistent alternative media source for peace, and because of their radical approach, they have been drawn to non-traditional donation methods, like Bitcoin.
In early 2015, Google Adsense shut off support for activism project AntiWar over their confrontational tactics of openly displaying images of war and destruction, making them increasingly reliant on donations from sources that are less likely to become unreliable because of controversy.
Cointelegraph spoke to Angela Keaton, Director of Operations of AntiWar.com, on the project’s use of Bitcoin donations.
Cointelegraph: What activism project of yours was funded by Bitcoin?
Angela Keaton: Most recently our Antiwar haiku contest was paid for completely in Bitcoin. Thankfully the majority of the cost associated was picked up by the contest's sponsors and they too paid for graphics and promotional outreach in Bitcoin. Our top prizes for the contest was a total of 1.7 Bitcoin and one of the winners was brand new to the currency, it was fun to see someone get started by simply writing a great pro peace haiku. We regularly pay for services in Bitcoin, currently we are paying for graphic design services and some of our promotional products in Bitcoin.
CT: Did you raise funds in Bitcoin, use it directly to finance activism, or both?
AK: We certainly don't raise the majority of our funds in Bitcoin, but having accepted Bitcoin since November of 2012 we have seen a good amount come in over the years. We have had a few fairly large contributions come in this way but even when people send a small amount to our public address we get excited. We understand the long term possibility for the currency and understand the potential value people are sending our way. With cash and traditional forms of payment it's nearly impossibly for someone to send us a dollar or two without the donation being chewed up by payment processor fees. With Bitcoin we regularly see small donations that cost us nothing to accept and hold.
CT: What made you use Bitcoin to raise funds instead of traditional methods? Why did you choose to use it to fund activism?
AK: When we first started hearing and looking into Bitcoin Antiwar staff was concerned that we could not get "real money" for the donated Bitcoin and that it would be difficult to cash out. Not only was converting just as simple as using PayPal but over time we no longer needed that service and found ways to spend the currency as is.
Also, Antiwar.com is involved with a law suit over FBI surveillance so this allows donors who might have some privacy concerns -- we do not ever reveal the names of our donors regardless -- extra protection.
Further, the connections between centralized banking and the ability to expand the US empire is an important part of the peace education process. People do not want to use what they see as blood money. Bitcoin gives them a peace currency.
CT: Were donations anonymous, private, public, or a mix between the three? How about recipients (either paid activists or businesses etc. providing services for the activism)?
AK: As a 501(c)3 we have to be transparent, We keep accurate accounting of all funds that come in and out of our organization with the help of our accountants. We can accept donations in many forms, gold, old cars, estate planning and stock. If someone wanted to make a tax deductible donation in Bitcoin that's as easy as any other donation type and can be done by contacting our office. As for our public Bitcoin address, we don't always know who is donating and we are not required to ask. How one wishes to donated is completely up to the donor.
CT: Did using Bitcoin simplify the process of organizing activism?
AK: Bitcoin could simplify a lot of things we do but it’s a matter of our donors and supporters getting comfortable with the technology, we regularly discuss Bitcoin on our social media accounts and are happy to help answer peoples questions and point them to the right resources to learn more. We would like to do more outreach this way as our initial attraction to Bitcoin was an ideological one. We don't just see Bitcoin as a new way for people to contribute to our organization, we see Bitcoin as a way for our organization to achieve its goals. Behind the scenes we keep a close eye on the developments happening within the space. We are not done with our own education by a long shot and we have spent a good amount of time experimenting with a number of crypto services and Bitcoin products including multi signature wallets and cold storage devices.