Sydney (AFP) – A high-level Australian union official was suspended Tuesday amid claims he was involved in a fake “Black Lives Matter” Facebook page that raked in thousands of dollars in donations.
Broadcaster CNN reported that the fake page had almost 700,000 followers — more than twice as many as the official Black Lives Matter page — before it was suspended.
It allegedly ran fundraising campaigns earning more than US$100,000, purportedly for Black Lives Matters causes in the United States.
CNN claimed that some of the money was transferred to Australian bank accounts, raising new questions about the integrity of Facebook’s platform and the content hosted there.
A senior Australia’s National Union of Workers figure — who is white — was linked to the fake page and other black rights websites by the broadcaster.
The union, which represents workers across various industries, said two people had been suspended.
“The NUW has launched an investigation into claims made by a CNN report and has suspended the relevant officials pending the outcome of an investigation,” National Secretary Tim Kennedy said in a statement.
“The NUW is not involved in and has not authorised any activities with reference to claims made in CNN’s story.”
Black Lives Matter is an activist organisation set up in the United States to campaign against violence and racism against black people.
A co-founder of the movement, Patrisse Cullors, tweeted that she had complained to Facebook and Twitter about numerous fake accounts.
“These fake BLM accounts and fake BLM people literally stealing money off of Black Death is so stomach churning I can’t even begin to explain,” she said.
“We told fb over and over again to shut that shit down. And it wouldn’t. Glad it’s down now.”
The revelations come with Facebook — used by two billion people — under huge pressure globally for massive lapses in protecting personal data.
Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg was testifying this week before the US Congress to explain how user privacy was compromised at the world’s biggest social network and how he intends to fix it.