Does a Facebook ‘Default Setting’ Sign Users Up for Recurring Donations?

As we have said many times, any Facebook post that begins with a variation of “copied from a friend” should raise suspicions.

Despite this, users of the social media platform continue to do their part to spread misinformation and disinformation in the form of unvetted stories — in one case, more than 435,000 times since January 2019.

The chain post of pasted text (a phenomenon commonly known as copypasta) reads:

I donated $50 toward someone’s Facebook birthday fundraiser for Alzheimer’s Foundation last month. I used my debit card. Today, looking at my checking account, I see the $50 payment, and the notation says “recurring payment”. The bank wasn’t open yet, but I knew my brother had donated as well, so I called him. He called to check on his, and sure enough, his was set to recur each month for 12 months. When Wells Fargo opened, I called customer service, and my account was set to be debited each month for 12 months. So, instead of donating $50, and thinking I was doing a good thing, I was donating $600! It clearly stated on Facebook “Janice donated $50. Thank you for your $50 donation”. Get this: the nice lady I talked to at Wells Fargo had just gone through the same thing!

Who else has had this happen? I’m sure there’s undoubtably a default mechanism in fine print, and I probably needed to uncheck “recurring payment” and check “non-recurring payment”, but if it was there, I didn’t see it, and neither did Eddie.

THIS IS FRAUD! But how do you report Facebook? To whom would I report it???

I just researched this, and Facebook also charges: 5% transaction fee, 6.9% processing fee, along with .30 cents per donation.

It is true that Facebook charges a processing fee for donating to personal fundraisers on its platform; according to its guidelines, it charges 2.6 percent plus an additional 30 cents USD. The company was charging an additional 5 percent on donations made to non-profit groups, but that fee was removed in November 2017 when it eliminated fees for donations made to charitable organizations.

Facebook’s guidelines also include a note for users concerned over a “recurring” donation:

One-time donations made on Facebook may appear as ‘Recurring’ on your bank statement, but will only be charged once. Verify the status of your donation in your Payment Settings.

“When you use Facebook to donate to a nonprofit, you can choose to make either a one-time donation or a recurring donation,” Facebook says on its donations guide. “Change the frequency of your donation by selecting the option you prefer on the payment screen.”

When we contacted them for comment, Facebook verified that its donation system is set up so that a one-time donation is the default setting for users making a charitable donation.

“Although we do have a recurring donations feature, we never charge recurring donations unless a donor specifically selects that option,” they said in an email.

Last year, there was an error with our payment processor, where some bank statements mistakenly showed ‘Recurring’ next to one-time donation charges made on Facebook. We apologized for any inconvenience, and worked with both the banks and our payment processor to get this fixed.

We also contacted Wells Fargo to verify whether they had heard of an interaction between a customer and one of their employees matching the description in the post, but we have not yet heard back. However, we were able to verify that it is possible to easily opt out of Facebook’s recurring donations feature.