BuzzFeed will donate more than $25,000 (£20,528) to nonprofit organisation the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) from the sales of its "failing pile of garbage" merchandise.
US President-elect Donald Trump vented his anger at the organisation at a press conference on Wednesday (11 January), after it published an unverified dossier alleging that Russia has compromising information on him in full. Furious at the publication of a 35-page memo containing unsubstantiated claims, Trump lashed out at BuzzFeed as "a failing pile of garbage" and warned: "They're going to suffer the consequences."
The website launched a flash sale shortly after with items ranging from rubbish bins to T-shirts and a range of bumper stickers – many of which were emblazoned with the tag "failing pile of garbage". BuzzFeed sold out of the 100 limited edition bins.
Shani O Hilton, the head of US news at BuzzFeed posted on Twitter: "Cool thing: thanks to people who bought the failing pile of garbage merch, we get to donate more than $25k to @pressfreedom".
The decision to publish the unverified allegations sparked a fierce debate around media ethics, with critics denouncing it as "not how journalism works".
Mother Jones' Washington bureau chief, David Corn, remarked: "Even Donald Trump deserves journalistic fairness", while NBC's Chuck Todd told Ben Smith, the editor-in-chief of Buzzfeed News: "I've known you a long time, but you just published fake news. You made a knowing decision to put out an untruth."
However, Smith defended the decision to publish the claims, saying: "I think people love to throw the phrase 'fake news' around to diminish anything they don't like.
He added: "I think this is a real story about a real document. You see these things spread and you have to engage them."
"When top officials are making decisions on it, not just seeing it, I think it's appropriate to let your audience see it and say whether they think it's nonsense."