Facebook is the land of fake stunting, fake fronting, fake rich lifestyles, fake love, and fake news – but fake activism? Yes, fake activism! Now that so much is being released about the ties that Facebook, Russian bots, and the 2016 election has had on our democracy, Facebook has been slowly informing us of how much of our personal information, the pages we love, and even some of the people we follow have all been tainted on the most powerful media platform in the world. Today we learned that the biggest Black Lives Matter movement page on Facebook is a scam.
The page was titled Black Lives Matter and was run by a middle-aged white man living in Australia. CNN investigated this page that had over 700,000 followers – which is more than the “official” Black Lives Matter page. Not only is this page fake, but they managed to help raise at least $100,000 that they said were going to Black Lives Matter causes around the United States. In a CNN investigation, they learned that some of this money was transferred to Australian bank accounts.
Of course the page has been cancelled, but this is yet another black eye for Facebook who has been struggling for the last month to explain personal information being released to private entities, Russian spies and bots, and Facebook’s ties to Trump and his researchers. Zuckerberg testified in front of Congress and discussed some of the changes Facebook is making to combat so much of the fake representation that’s been plaguing the platform. Zuckerberg now says that Facebook will make people who run large pages, identify themselves and their location.
But, it’s not like Facebook wasn’t aware of the fake BLM page. According to CNN, Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of BLM, informed Facebook that the page was fake “some time ago”, and asked for it to be removed. Not only did the Australians have the fake page and a Like page, but they also had a very large Facebook group called “Black Lives Matter” with 40,000 members.
Ian Mackay, is the person suspected of setting up this fake page, along with other pages tied to black issues. Mackay also registered blackpowerfist.com, blacklivesmatter.media, etc.; the person(s) behind these accounts asked people to donate money for their “causes”. When CNN reached out Mackay, he denied ever owning these pages, he stated: “I once bought the domain name only and sold it.”
Yesterday, Facebook disabled some of Mackay’s other Facebook profiles he used to run some of the BLM pages. The Donorbox and Paypal accounts they used to raise funds were also suspended.
This is unfortunate for so many hardworking Black Lives Matter members. Many of them actually have boots on the ground, and are in communities doing real work. Many articles lately have described the real struggles that go on behind the scenes for some of these activists and what they have endured. Barely making it, many of these community activists are trying to fight for causes, pay bills, maintain a healthy lifestyle – while simultaneously putting their lives and health at risk. These organizers depend on donations in order to barely survive.
Deray McKesson had this to say to CNN:
“It’s important to remember the movement was organic and no organization started the protests that spread across the country. The consequences of that is it hasn’t been easy to think about authenticity in the digital space.”
Also, the fact that Facebook is only releasing this information and shutting down pages, AFTER they had to testify in front of Congress is disturbing. Every week we are receiving more and more details about some of the things they knew about, but simply let go on without caring about the consequences.