Talk about cultural appropriation. What many people believed to be the main Facebook page for Black Lives Matter is allegedly run by a middle-age white man from Australia. The page has over 700,000 followers on Facebook, which is nearly twice as many as the official Black Lives Matter page. CNN.com reports that the page “was tied to online fundraisers that brought in at least $100,000 that supposedly went to Black Lives Matter causes in the U.S. At least some of the money, however, was transferred to Australian bank accounts, CNN has learned.”
Reportedly, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Patrisse Cullors thought the page was a scam and contacted Facebook months ago about removing the page, but nothing was done. The page links to websites tied to a man named Ian Mackay, who is a National Union of Workers official in Australia. According to CNN, “Mackay has registered dozens of websites, many on issues tied to black rights. In April 2015, Mackay registered blackpowerfist.com. Mackay’s name, email address, phone number and other details appeared in the registration records for the site until July 2015, when the website enabled a feature that allows site owners to hide their identities and contact information.” Other names like BP Parker and Steve Parks were linked to the page, which encouraged people to donate money.
CNN reports, a “source also familiar with some of the payments processed told CNN that the group had raised around $100,000 that they were aware of. The source also said the fundraisers were linked to Australia.” Ian Mackay denied to CNN that he ran the Facebook page, saying, “I once bought the domain name only and sold it.” Hours later, the fake Black Lives Mater Facebook page was deleted.
Today, Facebook reportedly deactivated all profiles associated with the bogus page and the online payment services have suspended all activity with the users.
Facebook declined to “comment when asked if ads were purchased to boost the page on its platform.” Clearly, this is another blow to the way Facebook is handling users—from Russia bots to a fake page designed to profit from a powerful movement.