Invisible Children has won $1 million as the winner of the Chase Community Giving contest on Facebook. However, this victory may come with a price, as the final days of the contest spurred accusations of voter fraud.
The Isha Foundation, which "addresses all aspects of human wellbeing," came in 2nd place behind Invisible Children. However, in the contest's last few hours, many newly created profiles voted for The Isha Foundation, some of them with dubious-looking names, including Gdfg Kcjbvkljvb and Sdfj Dfsjlfkddjf. Several other profiles with more realistic names voted for Isha, though these accounts have had few if any friends or activity prior to voting. These include Rajasekaran Jdha, Deepika Kannan, Lavinia Elethea and Shanmugamnmathiazagan Anna.
Fans of Invisible Children started crying foul in the final hours before midnight ET, and arguments between Invisible Children supporters and Isha Foundation supporters broke out on Facebook.
Invisible Children co-founder Laren Poole said that his organization has been suspicious of the voting frequency for several days. "Most of their votes are coming from rural India and even during the middle of the night they've been posting high vote tallies with Facebook user names that look like gibberish."
Isha Foundation volunteer Noushin Vaccani says that their votes are legitimate. "Please know that many votes are coming from Indians whose names are not in Latin alphabet characters," he told me. "As such, many times they are not uploaded correctly or there is just simply not a way to put them in English."
Still, many Invisible Children supporters aren't convinced.
Facebook user Kaitlin Elizabeth Elias says "Hayley has a point. the names Gdfg Kcjbvkljvb and Sdfj Dfsjlfkddjf were counted as votes... We as IC supporters support your organization! it's simply some of the votes that people are skeptical of!"
User Vimal Nallappan has responded every few minutes with the same message: "PLEASE Vote forIsha... it'll only take a few clicks... it's a sincere request... if ufeel that it's not worth it then please tell me... i'll see if i can doAnything to explain the importance of your vote... click on the linkbelow now... Please."
Though many of the profiles supporting The Isha Foundation appear to be new with little to no activity, it's unclear if that is a violation of the terms and conditions of participating in the contest.
Invisible Children has also been accused of fraud during the contest. Change.org reported on January 19 that many users who had not voted for Invisible Children had been tagged in a photo with an image reading "I Voted For Invisible Children," making it appear as though that user had voted for the group.
Voting for the Chase Community Giving contest ended at midnight on January 23, with the phrase "$1 MM Winner" posted to the Invisible Children account minutes later. It is unknown whether Chase and Facebook are verifying the legitimacy of vote counts.
The Isha Foundation has over 5,600 supporters on Facebook while Invisible children has over 17,000. Third place organization To Write Love On Her Arms has over 15,000 supporters.
Note: Huffington Post Impact is managed by Causecast.org, a website that features profiles of both Invisible Children and To Write Love On Her Arms.