The most popular Black Lives Matter Facebook page turned out to be fake — and some of the money it raised may have been funnelled overseas
One fundraiser was reportedly linked to an Australian man’s bank account, and others to an Australian IP address
By Rosie Perper
The biggest Black Lives Matter Facebook page was fake and some of the funds it raised were sent to an Australian bank account, according to report by CNN.
The page, titled “Black Lives Matter,” was not linked to the actual Black Lives Matter movement but instead had links to a middle-aged Australian union official.
CNN’s investigation found the page, which had nearly 700,000 followers, and its associated accounts and websites were linked to fundraisers that reportedly raised at least US$100,000. The funds were supposed to go to causes associated with the Black Lives Matter movement in the US, but some of the money was funnelled to Australia.
“Our mission is to raise awareness about racism, bigotry, police brutality and hate crimes by exposing through social media locally and internationally stories that mainstream media don’t,” a message on the group’s Donorbox page reportedly read.
CNN reported that the Facebook page, on numerous occasions, linked to websites that appeared to be connected to Ian Mackay, an official for the Australian National Union of Workers.
A website called blackpowerfist.com was reportedly registered to Mackay’s name, email address, and phone number in April 2015, said CNN. And a source reportedly said at least one related fundraiser was tied to an Australian IP address and bank account, one was explicitly tied to Mackay.
The Australian National Union of Workers told CNN Tuesday it had suspended Mackay while it investigates the issue.
The page has now been suspended by Facebook.
Facebook is struggling to maintain trust on its platform
The discovery of the fake Black Lives Matter page comes amid mounting criticism of Facebook.
The platform has recently been accused of facilitating hate speech, allowing Russian-linked accounts to influence the 2016 US election, and has investigated claims Russian groups bought ads to influence the outcome of the UK Brexit vote.
Earlier this week Facebook announced it will require political ads and pages with “large numbers of followers” to be authorised.