By Frederick H. Lowe
Facebook has shut down a fake Black Lives Matter site operated by a white union official in Perth, Australia, after repeated complaints from the real site’s owners that the fake site was making money off black deaths.
The fake site, the largest on Facebook, reportedly was run by Ian Mackay, general branch vice president of the National Union of Workers, a trade union of 90,000 workers founded in 1989, according to its website.
The union, which has a mailing address in Melbourne, Australia, suspended Mackay and another unnamed man pending an investigation.
Tim Kennedy, the union’s national secretary,wrote in an email to BlackMansStreet.Today/NorthStarNewsToday.com on NUW letterhead that MacKay and other man have since been fired.
Mackay’s fake Black Lives Matter website had 700,000 followers and $100,000 in donations before it was shutdown. The fake site sold T-shirts and coffee mugs with “Black Lives Matter” printed in black on a yellow or white background, according to an Australian website.
The verified Black Lives Matter page on Facebook has more than 320,000 followers.
“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,” Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of Black Lives Matter, wrote on Twitter. “We told [Facebook] over and over again to shut that shit down. And it wouldn’t. Glad it’s down now.”
Facebook did not do anything about the fake website until CNN started making inquiries, according to several news reports.
“The claims made in the [CNN] report, and subsequent reports, betray the values of the NUW and are abhorrent to all the hard-working NUW officials and members who are tarnished by these claims,” Kennedy wrote.
Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi and Cullors founded Black Lives Matter after a jury of mostly white women acquitted George Zimmerman in the February 26, 2012, murder of an unarmed Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida.
Black Lives Matter gained more traction following the August 19, 2014 deadly police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
Mackay reportedly has registered dozens of other websites, many of which were tied to black civil rights organizations.
Facebook’s disclosure comes on the same day that Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s founder and CEO, testified before the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committee concerning Cambridge Analytica, a firm associated with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign stealing data from 87 million Facebook users to influence elections.
Black Lives Matter also has faced its share of challenges by those who want to brand it a hate organization, but as more police murder unarmed black men, demonstrators of all races are carrying Black Lives Matter signs, chanting Black Lives Matter or wearing Black Lives Matter T-shirts.
Buzz Feed News published an article in 2016 about the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement in Australia.
In Palestine, young people have been photographed holding up Black Lives Matter signs. Asians also have supported Black Lives Matter.
Kennedy said:”We stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and like grassroots activist organizations nationally and internationally.”