Numerous ComicsGate IndieGoGo Campaigns Appear To Be Getting Shadowbanned By The Crowdfunding Platform

Graveyard Shift: Omega Storm

For the last five years, IndieGoGo has been the haven for ComicsGate projects, a website where creators felt they could create their books and sell to their fans without fear of politically motivated tampering with their comic book campaigns.

The safety may have been an illusion, as there have been signs the San Francisco-based crowdfunding company had troubles with right-leaning creators for years.

Private American (2022)

That illusion might have finally unraveled as IndieGoGo seems to have now shadowbanned several campaigns from ComicsGate creators.

Mike Baron, the creator of Nexus and an iconic Punisher writer, first noticed his campaign was shadowbanned when his campaign manager, Chris Braly of Bleeding Fool, attempted to search for “Private American” on the website. When the title is searched for, the project does not come up.

Every other IndieGoGo project does come up in the top leftmost spot when the project title is searched.

Source: Screenshot, IndieGoGo

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Upon further examination, when one goes to the “comics” section of IndieGoGo to manually search for the project, Private American doesn’t appear on the list.

The only way to get to the Private American project is if a person has a direct link to the project.

Source: ‘Private American’ (2022). Cover art by Richard Bonk and Gabe Eltaeb.

The inability to search for the book is a practice known as shadowbanning, in which the project is effectively erased from discoverability. It is not a complete ban, but the insidious nature of a shadowban makes potential customers unaware of a project, which hurts its potential success in crowdfunding.

This can be seen in Baron’s Private American, as his last book, Thin Blue Line, which was not shadowbanned, made $95,237 on the site. The current shadowbanned campaign has only made $30,425 by contrast.

Speaking with Hollywood In Toto, Braly said, “No telling how long this has happened, or how much has been lost. But our last campaign on IGG raised nearly $100K (“Thin Blue Line”), and typically the crowdbase grows, but this is an anomaly.”

He added, “We’ve spent a lot of money on marketing, press releases, video, and more, and if we had known IGG was hiding us, we would’ve gone elsewhere.”

Source: ‘Private American.’ Interior art.

When this shadowbanning became known, other ComicsGate creators noticed similar happenings to their campaigns. Fan-favorite artist, Jon Malin noticed his new campaign Graveyard Shift: Omega Storm is also shadowbanned.

As seen below, the current campaign does not show up when you search it. However, you can see that the previous campaign for Graveyard Shift Vol. IV does show up.

Source: IndieGoGo

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Shane Davis launched his Inglorious Rex 2 this week amidst these controversies, and to his shock, he found his new book was not listed from the beginning of his campaign. His account appears to have been flagged in advance so his projects would launch without being seen.

As you can see below when you search Inglorious Rex 2, Davis’ campaign for the first volume does indeed populate, but his current campaign is nowhere to be seen.

Source: IndieGoGo

Despite the shadowbanning, Davis raised more than $120,000 on his first day of the campaign, showing the popularity of Inglorious Rex among comic readers.

Source: Cover for Inglorious Rex 2, art by Dale Keown

Comic creator Perth Comics researched IndieGoGo’s code and found that some campaigns were embedded with code “<meta name=”sailthru.promotable” content=”no” />”, which doesn’t allow the campaigns to be searched for. He found this code also impacted the campaigns Gemshock and Frog G.

He warned creators, “Check for the above meta tag in the code on your campaign page to see if you are hidden from Indiegogo’s web templates.”

Source: screenshot, Twitter

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IndieGoGo’s help center confirms it intentionally shadowbans campaigns and can do so for any reason. The page states, “Campaigns are not guaranteed to be listed in the search. If your campaign is not appearing in search, we recommend you find ways to activate your community to increase engagement on your campaign. Your campaign will still be accessible via your campaign URL- be sure to share the URL with your network and community!”

Source: IndieGoGo

Several fans and journalists have reached out to different creators on IndieGoGo, and it appears as if only ComicsGate comics have been impacted by these shadowbans.

If this is true, IndieGoGo appears to be targeting the movement for political purposes. It goes against the spirit of crowdfunding, to let the public and readers decide which comics to support and enjoy based on what they see.

Source: ‘Private American.’ Promotional art.

What do you think about IndieGoGo shadowbanning ComicsGate campaigns?

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