Facebook’s Most Popular Black Lives Matter Page Was Fake and Had Ties to a White Australian Man
The largest Black Lives Matter page on Facebook was discovered to be a fake with ties to online fundraisers that raised nearly a $100,000 — some of which was transferred to Australian bank accounts — raising questions over how Facebook verifies the identity of its pages.
The page bore the same exact title of the actual organization but had more than twice the amount of followers — nearly 700,000 in total — according to a report from CNN. The outlet found the page was connected to a “middle-aged white man in Australia” and used services such as PayPal, Patreon and Donorbox to collect money that was intended to be for Black Lives Matter-affiliated causes in the U.S.
PayPal and Patreon suspended the campaigns upon learning of the page’s connections via CNN, the outlet reports. Donorbox and another fundraising platform, Classy, had already done so.
It took nearly a week for Facebook to suspend the page after being contacted by CNN, according to the outlet. The incident comes days before Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is set to testify in front of Congress in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal that brought to light Facebook’s difficulty in protecting its users’ personal data.
The fake Black Lives Matter page was linked to Ian Mackay, a National Union of Workers official in Australia, according to CNN. The union did not immediately respond to a request to comment from Fortune.
Last week, Facebook announced plans to ensure verification of its pages with a large number of followers. “This will make it much harder for people to administer a Page using a fake account, which is strictly against our policies,” Facebook wrote in a statement. “We will also show you additional context about Pages to effectively assess their content. For example, you can see whether a Page has changed its name.”
Fortune has reached out to Facebook for comment and will update this story when the company responds.