Facebook has found itself in turmoil in recent months—scandal after scandal has placed CEO Mark Zuckerberg into the hot seat. Amidst the data-mining conspiracies and testimonies on Capitol Hill, a very different kind of revelation became public.
The biggest Black Lives Matter Facebook page is actually fake and has ties to a random white man in Australia. The page amassed 700,000 followers and was frequently associated with fundraisers claiming to benefit the Black Lives Matter movement.
The official Black Lives Matter page—which has just over 300,000 followers—has been verified and is currently the only BLM Facebook page still operating, aside from smaller branches of the organization. The global movement gained traction in the wake of a series of police shootings involving black men. Activists participating in the movement have long asserted that Black Lives Matter isn’t an organization, rather a state of mind. Efforts to bring lawsuits against BLM have failed in the past—largely because the group isn’t officially organized.
The fake page was also involved in a string of fundraisers, claiming to be raising money for Black Lives Matter groups within the United States. However, it was discovered that of the approximately $100,000 raised by the page, a substantial amount was transferred to an Australian bank account. Online fundraising campaigns associated with this page have since been suspended. This highlights the need for vigilance while navigating the worldwide web. It’s not necessarily wise to give money to organizations that aren’t registered in the United States or otherwise verified. A sucker is born every minute, and for online scammers, business is booming.
Many donors contacted online fundraising websites themselves alerting to possible scams, saying they thought their money was going to “grassroots” organizations. It isn’t clear if the now-deleted Black Lives Matter page actually released funds to BLM causes stateside.
People need more training when dealing with social media, especially before cash is forked over thinking it’s going to fund protests and other interests. Anyone can get online and capitalize on the Black Lives Matter movement, or any other ideal for that matter. Several start-ups that have begun marketing merchandise online associated with BLM receive 100 percent of the profit from the cause. Facebook can’t be blamed for people cashing in on the latest trend—no laws were broken or policies violated.