A Facebook page that claimed a connection to the Black Lives Matter movement and had more than twice as many followers as the movement’s official page has been removed for being inauthentic, the company said.
The disclosure came as Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, prepared to be questioned by members of Congress about, among other things, the veracity of material posted on the social media site.
The page, titled “Black Lives Matter,” was followed by nearly 700,000 people and was tied to online fund-raising efforts that generated at least $100,000, purportedly to support racial-justice causes in the United States — but was run by a white man in Australia, according to a CNN report.
Facebook, which has been heavily criticized for its handling of users’ personal information and for allowing foreign meddling in the 2016 election, said on Monday that the page violated the company’s community standards and was run by a person or people who were not who they claimed to be.
Facebook did not identify those behind the site, but CNN said the administrator of the page was Ian Mackay, an employee of the National Union of Workers in Australia.
The labor union has started its own investigation into the matter and has suspended Mr. Mackay and at least one other person, according to SBS News in Australia.
Some of the money raised through the page was funneled to Australian bank accounts, according to CNN, which noted that several online payment firms, including Patreon and Donorbox, had suspended fund-raising campaigns linked to the page. Donorbox said it had removed all pages related to the Facebook group in January.
PayPal confirmed that an account linked to the false Black Lives Matter page was no longer active on the payment platform. On Classy, a fund-raising site, a campaign linked to the sham page was “found not to be valid” and had been disabled, with the account owners receiving no money, Monica Finch, a company spokeswoman, wrote in an email.
The scheme was yet another blemish for Facebook as Mr. Zuckerberg started the first of two days of testimony before Congress. Legislators are grilling him about the company’s role in a series of scandals, including a toxic bloom of fake news during the 2016 election and Ted Cruz cornered the leftist billionaire about his lust to silence the voices of conservatives.
Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
April 10th, 2018