It was the largest Black Lives Matter page on Facebook, but it was allegedly operated by a white man in Australia.
In the latest news about the embattled Facebook, CNN reported Monday that a fan page for the social justice movement was a scam that had garnered nearly 700,000 followers, compared to the 323,000 people who follow the verified Black Lives Matter page.
PayPal, Patreon, Donorbox, and Classy all cut fundraising campaigns linked to the fake site, which has since been suspended. Before it was caught, though, some of the money raised reportedly went to a bank account in Australia.
According to CNN, the bogus page consistently linked to websites connected to Ian Mackay, a National Union of Workers (NUW) official in Australia. He reportedly registered dozens of websites that were tied to black rights.Noam Galai/Getty Images
CNN reported that one of the top sites — blackpowerfist.com — was openly linked to Mackay’s name, email address, and phone number until July 2015, when the website enabled a feature allowing site owners to conceal their identities.
Another official with the NUW said Mackay — as well as one other staffer — have been suspended while the matter is under investigation.
In a statement, Union National Secretary Tim Kennedy said, “The NUW is not involved in, and has not authorized, any activities with reference to claims made in CNN’s story.”
DeRay Mckesson, a prominent Black Lives Matter leader, said the incredibly fast rise of the movement left it open to such scams.
“The consequences of that is it hasn’t been easy to think about authenticity in the digital space,” he said.