To understand whether and how crowdfunding campaigns are a source of COVID-19–related misinformation.
We searched the GoFundMe crowdfunding platform using 172 terms associated with medical misinformation about COVID-19 prophylaxes and treatments. We screened resulting campaigns for those making statements about the ability of these searched-for or related terms to prevent or treat COVID-19.
There were 208 campaigns worldwide that requested $21,475,568, raised $324,305 from 4367 donors, and were shared 24,158 times.
The most discussed interventions were dietary supplements and purported immune system boosters (n = 231), followed by other forms of complementary and alternative medicine (n = 24), and unproven medical interventions (n = 15). Most (82.2%) of the campaigns made definitive efficacy claims.
Campaigners focused their efforts on dietary supplements and immune system boosters. Campaigns for purported COVID-19 treatments are particularly concerning, but purported prophylaxes could also distract from known effective preventative approaches. GoFundMe should join other online and social media platforms to actively restrict campaigns that spread misinformation about COVID-19 or seek to better inform campaigners about evidence-based prophylaxes and treatments.