Since this story still seems to be the biggest, I will mainly be focusing on the Flying Colors Foundation(FCF) for this week.
First of all, I would like to apologize for promoting the organization last week without having done proper research, as questions about the FCF’s operations had already been raised the day I released the story last week. I would also like to give a shoutout to socialanigirl. She has been investigating this issue and has done great work. I will link to all of her writing related to this issue so that you can get caught on the story.
I will try to accurately summarize all of what has happened so far, but to get an accurate picture of the situation I suggest reading all of her articles, as they will go much more in-depth. With that being said, the summary:
Back in July of 2017, The Flying Colors Foundation formally came together as a group, and in January of 2018, the group received public charity status from the IRS, supplanting their status as a non-profit organization. In the months leading up to their designation as a public charity, the group had been made up of a number of members, including Gigguk from The Anime Zone. The group had been courting other prominent members of the Anitube Community, including Joey the Anime Man, who had previously worked with the organization to make his top 100 anime of all time poll, as well as others who have admitted they were approached such as Geoff from Mother’s Basement, The Canipa Effect, and Digibro, who admitted that he had gotten paid for the initial consultation.
Now, why does any of this matter?
The initial criticism came after the first report was released on Medium.com, written by the socialanigirl, addressing the organizations problems. In the initial report, she mentioned things such as a lack of transparency, as the group had not initially released every member who had involvement with the group. FCF had initially said they had only 6 employees, but it was also revealed that Ian Condry worked as a seventh employee, mainly an adviser. Another problem was that group was also liable to a conflict of interest, as two of the group’s employees also still had connections to the group Otaku Pin Club, a for-profit company. The main criticism leveled against the group was the invasion of privacy, as on their 2018 Anime Census was a question about mental health, which had nothing to do with the groups stated goal of supporting the growth of anime. This was seen by many as an extreme invasion of privacy because of the fact that FCF had initially suggested it would be giving information to private companies.
Representatives of FCF spoke with Socialanigirl after the initial report and afterward lead to the second report.
FCF responded to the questions Socialanigirl posed in the second report, but their responses still left many questions. The second report revealed that, despite claiming the that the group only had a total of 7 employees at that point in time. the group did not include in their response 1) Any of the members of its Board of Directors, and 2) An intern who was discovered after finding her LinkedIn profile claiming to be a researcher for the group. Socialanigirl also reported that members of the organization like Gigguk had lied about not being significantly involved in the organization. The report revealed that Gigguk and Joey were both way more involved than they admitted to their YouTube audiences. Questions were also raised about the groups status as a non-profit, as their pitch to Japanese companies sold themselves as more of a business. These reports reveal that FCF has been at the very least with extreme negligence, and evidence suggests that members such as Gigguk and Joey knew a lot more about the day to day operations of the company then they were letting on.
Since these reports, the company has since announced that it will be stopping all operations on March 31st, and the organization’s website is no longer available.
I’ll be completely honest, I feel like my trust has been betrayed. When I initially heard about the top 100 anime poll that Joey was initially doing, I was excited, and since it was asking for just my top five favorite anime, it didn’t seem fishy at all. But now, knowing what we know, I am not going to be able to trust a lot of the people involved, especially Gigguk and Joey.
Granted, some of this falls on me. I willingly took the Anime Census without looking into the organization, but the fact that many of their members were acting dishonestly and lying to those who trusted them, many their fans, is deplorable.
Personally, I am glad that they have ceased operation, as I think their continued work would only lead to more bad decisions and gross negligence.
What do you guys think of this story? Let me know in the comments below. Also, if you want to support the Aniwriter through donations or are just feeling generous, consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi. Otherwise, thanks for reading and bye for now, Friendos!