#nomakeupselfie error leads to accidental donations


Polar bear on an ice floe, Svalbard Archipelago, Arctic Norway.

The #nomakeupselfie craze has seen millions of women take to social media with a picture of themselves barefaced 'in support of cancer'. Skeptics were shocked to hear that in addition to the photo, many of them were also donating to the cause, and that more than £8 million has been donated to Cancer Research UK. Unfortunately, a simple mistake means that thousands of pounds of this money has ended up elsewhere.

So were you caught out?

The craze took hold last week, and Cancer Research UK decided to take advantage of it on Wednesday, by sharing its text code for donating on its Facebook and Twitter pages. It thanked women for raising awareness, and suggested they could help even more by making a £3 donation. The campaign has been a huge success, but there have been some people who didn't quite get things right.


According to the BBC, one major mistake made by those trying to donate to Cancer Research was to text the word DONATE rather than BEAT to the charity number. This meant that rather than give their money to a cancer charity, they donated to UN agency Unicef, which supports children and mothers in developing countries.

A spokesman said that almost £20,000 had been donated to Unicef by mistake, and that the organisation was working with Cancer Research UK to redirect the money to them.

A second error was that some of those trying to write BEAT on their phone had it auto-corrected to BEAR. This is owned by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and is used to enable people to adopt a polar bear.

Those texting BEAR receive a message saying: "Thank you for choosing an adorable polar bear. We will call you today to set up your adoption." A number of Twitter users have posted screen-grabs claiming to show they have accidentally adopted a bear.

One posted a screen-grab showing how his initial message was auto-corrected to the word 'BEAR', and then when he tried to send a second message correcting it to 'BEAT', his phone changed that to 'BEAR' too. He expressed some concern that he may have accidentally adopted two bears.

However, WWF has confirmed that no money was taken as a result of these texts, because adoptions aren't activated by text - it just enables the charity to call the person who texted in order to set up an adoption.

A spokesperson told the BBC: "When we realised there was a lot of interest in a campaign we weren't presently running we made sure our automatic text message response let the sender know their text had gone awry."

"We wish Cancer Research UK every success in their campaign and their goals, polar bear selfies are harder to come by, though, as far as we are aware, none wear make up."