A model says she's raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Australian bushfire relief by offering nude photos in exchange for donations.
Kaylen Ward, 20, is now calling herself The Naked Philanthropist on social media. The Los Angeles influencer and online sex worker was recently looking at coverage of the fires in Australia and wondered how she could help.
"I was seeing all the posts on Twitter about the Australian fires and I was really concerned there wasn't a lot of media coverage and not a lot of people donating," she told BuzzFeed News.
That's when she had an idea. Ward already sells nude photos online, so why not do it for charity? On Jan. 3, she tweeted that anyone who sent proof that they'd donated at least $10 to a list of Australian charities would get a nude photos in their DMs.
The tweet took off, with more than 40,000 retweets, and Ward's inbox was soon flooded.
"I was expecting to raise maybe $1,000 but the tweet blew up," she said.
She's now hired a team of four people to help her sort through the thousands and thousands of DMs she's received. They've been working around the clock to verify donation confirmations as best they can and reply with the promised nude.
Ward said that by midday Sunday, they estimate more than $500,000 has been raised thanks to her campaign.
To her surprise, the reaction online has also been overwhelmingly positive, she said.
But Instagram has thrown a bit of a wrench into her plans. Although she was running the campaign on Twitter, word of it spread to Instagram, where Ward had 50,000 followers. On Saturday, Ward said Instagram shut down her account, claiming she'd violated their guidelines.
In a screenshot posted by Ward, Instagram said she had posted "sexually suggestive content," though the model denies she broke any rules. She's tried to reach out to Instagram but hasn't heard back.
Instagram has not responded to BuzzFeed News' request for comment.
Now, fake accounts trying to capitalize on her viral do-gooding are popping up.
Ward, however, has pledged to keep replying to as many DMs are she and her team can.
Ward said in addition to her concern for what's happening in Australia and its impact on the environment, it's an issue that hits close to home. Last summer, her family had to flee the Carr fire in California, which burned more than 200,000 acres and left eight people dead.
The family ended up on a houseboat for several days, not knowing if their home would survive. Thankfully it did, but many of their neighbors' homes did not.
"I got to see firsthand how many people were affected," she said.
It is no longer enough to report the fact truthfully. It is now necessary to report the truth about the fact.