EDIT: Thanks for playing along, Reddit. The drive to Save Knowmore.org will stay up for a few months longer while we try to pull out all the stops to get it funded. You can joint the campaign and help spread the word by sharing our Generosity page which is here: https://www.generosity.com/fundraising/web-s-largest-searchable-corporate-crime-database

Hi there. I'm B. Dolan.
I've done other AMAs before, but only as a rapper / writer. While I'll happily answer about those parts of what I do, I'm here specifically to talk about an ongoing web community project aimed at corporate crime and abuse.

We recently launched a crowdsourcing campaign to re-fund the website KNOWMORE.ORG. That website was, between '05-2014, a searchable portable to the largest database of Corporate Crime information and history on the internet. It allowed users to search the name of any brand, product or company and be shown a profile that rated the company for human rights, worker's rights, environmental concerns, political influence, and business ethics. It also clearly listed the contact information for all public officers of the company.

KNOWMORE.ORG gave easy quick access to an ongoing project to catalogue and rate the behavior of every major corporation in the world. It connected their practices to the products we buy every day, while allowing us to keep track of the effects big business had on our lives and laws globally. It was also a powerful tool in the hands of activists seeking to use their boycott more effectively.

Watching the video and reading the project description will explain further, if you're interested. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3UwEYKuMY7g

Before you ask: The video has a Kickstarter logo but the campaign's on Indiegogo. We weren't sure which platform we'd use when making the video. It's not an illuminati thing. Promise.

The project got posted to Reddit a couple weeks ago and shot to the front page within a couple days.
People had lots of questions about the site which I answered in the old topic, but I wanted to take this opportunity to more formally open the project up to questioning and make sure people saw their answers.

So, you know. Come at me. It's a complex project with a long history that I'm happy to talk about at length. I've set aside the rest of the night to answer and will do my best to leave no AM un-A'd. We've currently raised around $14,000 towards the Drive's $100k goal, and want to make sure people have a chance to know it's happening before making a decision on the site's fate. If you can't donate but think it's a worthy idea, please spread it around!

<3, B

Proof: https://twitter.com/BDolanSFR/status/809442269958995969

Comments: 79 • Responses: 29  • Date: 

ld432339 karma

Have you noticed any broad trends among corporate maleficence over the past 20 years?

BDolanSFR17 karma

Sure. They sort of mirror the same trends everywhere involving the gathering of global wealth and resources into the hands of fewer and fewer entities and people.

A short sighted view of "cost" and a minute-to-minute need to show profit have resulted in some really destructive modern trends. Companies funding climate change denial to preserve oil profits are a good example that isn't new to the past 20 years, but has been intensified and nearly wrecked our chances of surviving on the planet by most accounts.

In my adult life I've also watched the explosion of the tech industry and it's parallel threat of increased surveillance and lack of privacy. That feels new.

But a lot of it also isn't new. The willingness to brutalize, abuse, and endanger the most defenseless people on the planet in the name of profit is old, but continues in horrible new ways. You need only look at the Dakota Access fight to see that that part of the struggle has been inherited.

The privatization of human being's right to clean drinking water is global, new, and begging to be addressed.

Our ability to protect workers in certain industries has also been almost destroyed by globalisation. That's new. I've talked to union leaders who fought for 2 years to restore worker's wages, only to win and have the factory close it's doors and move to Mexico. So the difficulty in trying to work globally to control corporations feels new.

Great question.

MonkeyyDLuffy9 karma

Have you got many threats from corporations due to the site?

BDolanSFR11 karma

the most threatened I ever got was by Dov Charney, former CEO of American Apparel. I didn't feel that threatened though. I talk about this in the fundraising video, but he screamed at me on the phone for nearly an hour once. The result was a 78 page report produced for the site that unearthed new evidence in the trial against him. I was eventually deposed over that. It was a whole thing.

We also experienced some vandalism over the years but stayed on top of it. That was part of the reason we narrowed down the interface from a wiki, which is how the site started out.

blink18fuckyou2 karma

Wasn't he also the CEO that was in trouble for some sexual assault claims by his employees?

BDolanSFR7 karma

Yeah. That was the "whole thing" part. haha. He was eventually removed for his behavior. Which was a goddamn shame because his company was truly doing revolutionary things in some regard. His paternal wannabe Larry Flynt BS ruined a good thing though, it seems.

TomBaum7 karma

Hey B! Thanks for doing the good work my dude. This is such an important time to have tools like Knowmore available to us. Several moments ago, before i knew you were AMAing i had the thought that knowmore.org is so important but there is a large swath of people who are ignorant to what corporate manipulation of the consumer looks like. Or that it even exists. How do we reach those stuck in a paradigm? ALSO i was trying to look up Thomas H Lee & partners who owns Iheartmedia when i found out Knowmore is down. Can you serve any knowledge on that? Thanks again! Huge fan of you & your music.

BDolanSFR6 karma

I don't have any offhand info about either of those companies, I'm afraid.

Corporate manipulation of the consumer is a crazy history all it's own. The series "Merchants of Cool" is a great place to start, but I also love a documentary called "Century of the Self" on the topic. "Knowmore.Tv" was a section of the previous site that housed a free archive of movies on a lot of topics, which I'd love to see revived.

Impius5 karma

Uncle B will you tell me a story?

BDolanSFR5 karma

Once upon a URL, Good or bad, you could tell

Tired_Thumb5 karma

What Trump brands can I avoid?

BDolanSFR3 karma

we made an infographic after the election to call out some of the ones that made statements of public support. https://twitter.com/BDolanSFR/status/804223743207862276

mcockram855 karma

B, obviously a whole heap of the corporations covered are truly multinational but is there any plays for a UK focus as well?

Even if it's just some sort of framework for British people to contribute towards to help expand the whole programme to spread the word of unethical business practices the world over.

BDolanSFR6 karma

I just got off a Skype call with Indi Heath from Greenpeace UK, and we were talking about the possible ways our two organizations could interact. We covered a ton of British companies also, as the entire Global Fortune 500 had profiles last time the site was online.

atlashendrixco4 karma

What do we do about boycotts when people are kinda forced to buy certain products due to low-SES status?

BDolanSFR4 karma

This also sort of goes to the question about cutting out all 'unethical' purchases. As mentioned, that kind of lifestyle isn't exactly necessary or what this sort of activism is about. Targeted boycotts around issues ("Don't buy any ____ this Christmas and tell them it's because ____") have been hugely successful for example.

fuckedifiknow3 karma

How's the fundraising going B? Any behind the scenes media stuff Pocasts, TV stuff etc planned or arranged?

BDolanSFR3 karma

A number of things we're working on from our end. I've gotten some volunteer publicity help and am working on getting the project in front of a couple large donors. We're also being pitched at the moment to a couple big podcasts that could be game changers if they accepted, so feel free to holler at people and personalities on social media.

We've also got a list of user submitted aggregator type sites we'd also like to see the site get covered by. Things like Upworthy, Metafilter, etc. In the past week though the fundraising has recently plateaud a bit, which tells me we've reached our core audience and now need to break through to a new one.

Odell_Strangehams3 karma

Really cool idea. How searchable and how far back will the data go? Would it be possible to track trends with the data? ( such as locations, nationalities, dates etc?). I would be curious to see how, as laws changed globally, the shenanigans shifted as well.

BDolanSFR5 karma

That's a really interesting idea. The possible applications of the database are beyond my imagination to be honest. In the past the way the information was put to use by Knowmore mostly centered around the search engine and a browse function called 'BEHIND THE LOGOS', where you would see a field of corporate logos and clicking one would bring you to the company's profile.

We also had an award winning Mozilla ad-on that displayed companies ethical ratings as you shopped in webstores or visited pages associated with them.

But yes... the possible applications are endless and the data is only limited by those researching it. We covered Bayer and IBM's involvement in Hitler's Germany, for example.

gdizzle013 karma

How did you make the transition from being a rapper/writer to someone interested in crime statistics and what inspired you to make a corporate crime database website?

BDolanSFR4 karma

"Crime statistics" is not exactly an accurate way to talk about what Knowmore contained. It provided a 'rating', but that rating was just a visual representation to let people know there were issues they might want to look into.

For example, you wonder where Poland Spring water comes from. You enter that in the search bar, which brings you to the profile for Nestle. You see an icon that represents human rights which is bright red as in 'Negative Rating'. You read down the page to see that Nestle was given that rating due to their past with breastmilk in the third world. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nestl%C3%A9_boycott

I never made any transitions that I know of. My fader is broken. Everything just plays at once. I made a decision for myself early on that I couldn't just rely on my art to make an impact in the world. I needed to get my hands a bit dirtier and try to create some useful tools. I've continued doing that as a rapper and an activist, I hope...

surfsupdud33 karma

The main difference between Kickstarter and Indiegogo is that Kickstarter makes you set a time limit, and doesn't charge people unless the goal is reached. Indiegogo lets you raise money indefinitely, and charges people right away.

In your video you said "This crowdsourcing campaign is meant to be an up or down vote on whether KnowMore.org needs to be around anymore. If it doesn’t meet its funding goal, we won’t take a dime of your money" - when do you intend to end the campaign, and if the goal is not met, refund the money? I’d like to know before I commit to donating.

BDolanSFR6 karma

We haven't set an end date on the campaign, so much as we have made a list of ways to possibly promote the cause which we are making our way through. This AMA is part of that process.

We've created a list of a couple hundred media outlets, organizations and people we'd like to get this project in front of. This is what I'd call the best push I can give it, which I'm committed to doing. I'd say if we are not more than 60% funded by April, we should be done 'the list' and have an indication of whether the idea has taken hold or not. If we're not there by that time, the money will be released back to all of the donors and we'll be looking into some way to release the database as a .torrent file or something.

suganonymous2 karma

Do you think it is possible in 2016 to live an enjoyable life whilst avoiding all products made by less than ethical corporations?

BDolanSFR5 karma

This is a popular line of questioning when the idea of ethical consumerism comes up, but I think it's a sort of misleading way of thinking and talking about what we're doing.

If we an't alleviate all the suffering in the world, should we alleviate any of it? No one is telling you you need to become a monk in the name of social justice... but your strategic participation in a couple things could help people in their fight and mean the world to the people being effected.

That's my approach, anyhow. No disrespect. My life is getting enjoyed though.

cocacola12 karma

If corporations were more focused on long term growth as opposed to quarter to quarter, would that have any positive impact on corporate crime or unethical practices?

BDolanSFR2 karma

I believe so. In fact though they're often so focused on growth it's a minute-to-minute game to lead the e-trading pack. The long term ability to continue doing business or say exist on the planet is never figured into the equation of most major corporations practice. That's bad for everybody, in my opinion.

I personally gravitate toward theories like "True Cost Economics" and calls to shift the paradigm of economic models being taught in business school to encompass the real impact of capitalism, generally.

Zan_H2 karma

What are your thoughts on oatmeal cookies?

BDolanSFR11 karma

I'm down but you gotta make it sexy for me. Throw a little toasted coconut or peanut butter in there. Don't just give me raisins, nahmean. Let's live while we're alive.

Murphthegurth2 karma

who should we avoid?

BDolanSFR3 karma

that's a pretty general question.

I guess I'll just say people with those stick familys on their car for starters.

taracus2 karma

Hey B, big fan of your work as well as your friends at Strange Famous Records !

My question is: Do you actually belive in the reptilians?

BDolanSFR4 karma

I have met humans that make lizards look like dolphins.

mac251872 karma

Where would you start personally if you wanted to find more information on the business practices of a large company?

BDolanSFR3 karma

We developed a sort of method within each category over time. So for example if I wanted to know all about the political influence of a company I'd probably start with Opensecrets.org. If I was starting to dig in to the environmental record I'd hit up a number of environmental groups like the Sierra Club or Greenpeace and scan their archives. Actual contact info and a lot of stockholder information can be gotten through Hoovers.com. It was a time consuming process, but Knowmore provided a way for only one person to have to do that research that many people could then easily access and make use of.

atlashendrixco2 karma

Hey there! Do you have any plans of teaming up with other orgs like Dem Socialists and/or Jacobin?

BDolanSFR5 karma

We've certainly tried through the years to team up with other organizations. In this fundraiser we're trying to raise a year's salary for a Non Profit Executive Director, and that type of activity falls under what we'd want that person to do.

In addition to fundraising, it would be the Director's job to build some of those bridges, or continue looking for new opportunities to do so. I have some activist friends who are very critical of the 'non profit industrial complex' and the world of grants and NPOs can be insular at hard to navigate at times. I know that from experience.

That said, we've never had a salaried person working on that sort of thing, and there is a ton of crossover potential among all kinds of activist organizations. What's great about the site is it serves a history of activism as much as a history of corporate malfeasance. It teaches lessons about how we're all fighting many of the same enemies, some of whom have been beaten in the past.

I've spoken with Chris Faraone of the Boston Institute of Non Profit Journalism (https://medium.com/@BINJ) about ways we could provide the site with fresh independent journalism were we to meet our funding goals.

I've also spoken with Indi Heath at Greenpeace UK recently about possible joint projects and coordination. I think there's room for much more of that, but working it all out requires time and energy from someone whose job it is to do so.

jonboon812 karma

Im a big fan and cait wait to see this site grow.

What will be the first things you accomplish with the seed money?

BDolanSFR3 karma

The first move would be to create a bank account and an organization to receive the money, and a board to make decisions. next we'd be looking for proposals from web companies to handle the tech project and contacting all of the people who have hit his up offering free tech help and advise.
I'd want to do have a kind of round table discussion with those people and hash out the different views of how to tackle the database and get it all back online at the best possible cost.

Those'd be some of the first steps...

nunes922 karma

book marking to read up on this later. definitely a cool idea. Fellow Rhode Islander so props to you in general. do you have a comp sci background? or howd you get involved? if its in the video dont answer lol

BDolanSFR5 karma

I don't have any computer science background, no. 401 in the place!

I got involved after working for the campaign to elect John Kerry in 2004. In the aftermath of that, feeling like a sucker and thinking about the other ways I "voted" every day. I had read Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser at the time and was amazed at how much dirt was behind a happy meal. I realized no one would ever realistically have the time to compile all that information, but that it should be compiled and easily accessible. I came up with the idea for Knowmore because it didn't exist.

suganonymous1 karma

Prince or Michael Jackson?

BDolanSFR3 karma

Rick James

suganonymous1 karma

What do you think is the single greatest song of all time?

smithandwesson21 karma

Around 5 years ago I saw you open for Pip in a little place called the Sugarmill in Stoke-on-Trent in England. I have always wondered whether or not you caught any diseases whilst in Stoke? It's a pesky place.

BDolanSFR3 karma

Was that the Halloween show where I had a skeleton onesie on? If so, I think I got out of the onesie unscathed. Less sure about Stoke.

flateric4201 karma

Do you like knock, knock jokes?

BDolanSFR4 karma

only when told by my four year old nephew.

If you are him... you are doing an incredible job with your letters.

chokie_roberts1 karma

Hey B! I was at your Cincinnati show in 2015 (Mr. Dibbs was in the front row if you remember) and you performed an unfinished song themed after Wile E Coyote. That shit was a year ago, can I put it up on YouTube yet?

BDolanSFR2 karma

nope.

chokie_roberts1 karma

Ok.

BDolanSFR3 karma

thanks!

thriveordye1 karma

Hey B. Long time fan, first time Redditor. What's your take on Standing Rock?

BDolanSFR2 karma

There's a lot to say about what's happening at Standing Rock. There's also a lot to say about what's still happening in Flint. I think these are the battlegrounds we find ourselves on, as lots of divergent issues all come to a boil at the same time. We also made this graphic to help people divest from and avoid companies that are funding the pipeline. https://twitter.com/knowmoredotorg/status/801964115770085376

What's your take on Standing Rock?

Mrsfoleyslittleboy1 karma

If you could go back in time to help a former you masturbate, would that be considered gay?

BDolanSFR4 karma

they told me this place had changed, y'know.