Facebook’s largest Black Lives Matter (BLM) page, with 700,000 followers, appears to be a fraud run by a white Australian man who walked away with more than $100,000 in donations. The page had almost twice the followers as BLM’s official Facebook presence.
A CNN investigation found the unofficial BLM page (using the URL “facebook.com/blacklivesmatter1”) was tied to Ian Mackay, a National Union of Workers official in Australia. The Facebook page was administered by “BP Parker” and “Steve Parks,” anonymous profiles both linked to domains owned by Mackay. CNN also says the page consistently linked out to websites, such as blackpowerfist.com and blacklivesmatter.media, that Mackay registered.
The administrators of the allegedly fraudulent “Black Lives Matter” page (who also managed a Facebook Group called “Black Lives Matter” with 40,000 members) encouraged people to donate online through the Facebook page and fundraising portals such as Donorbox, PayPal, Patreon, and Classy. CNN cited a source that said at least one of the accounts was tied to Mackay by name and an Australian bank account. More than $100,000 is believed to have been raised through the sites.
The mess highlights Facebook’s lack of oversight on its own platform. One of BLM’s co-founders, Patrisse Cullors, had contacted Facebook several months ago about the suspected scam but no action was taken. CNN said it showed its findings to Facebook last week, along with evidence that other fundraising sites had closed linked accounts, but the company initially said the BLM page “didn’t show anything that violated our Community Standards.”
Facebook then removed the page days later, on April 9, after disabling the “BP Parker” profile for violating community standards.