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Facing up to Facebook

By Russell Grenning - posted Thursday, 7 June 2018

Mr McLeod gave up trying to get Facebook Australia to respond positively or even sympathetically and had to resort to getting a court order requiring the comment writer to take down the inflammatory claims. The process took months and at his own cost.

And remember, if you have a Facebook page then you are subject to the same regime that Mr McLeod faced.

The alleged stringency that Facebook applies to those who post new pages was blown apart in April when it was revealed that the biggest page purporting to be part of the US Black Lives Matter movement was a scam run by an Australian Trade Union official, Ian MacKay.


His fake page garnered almost 700,000 followers dwarfing the Black Lives Matter official page which has about 40,000 followers and it has been alleged that at least some of the money collected from followers was transferred to Australia and didn't make it to the stated cause. The American CNN network exposed the scam and claimed the fake website had solicited more than $US100,000 through fund-raising campaigns.

MacKay was an organiser with the hard-left National Union of Workers and when contacted by CNN Mackay said, "My domain name buying and selling is a personal hobby." When the news broke the Union suspended Mackay.

Beyond that comment, Mackay refused to answer multiple questions from CNN apart from saying, "What is the point in speaking to you given that you are going to run the story either way.

The fake site was consistently linked to other websites tied to Mackay including . He appeared in the registration records until July, 2015, when Facebook enabled a feature that allowed site owners to hide their identities and contact information. Despite all of its promises about being open, transparent and accountable, Facebook hasn't seen any need to remove this feature.

Those behind the websites and the Facebook page encouraged people to donate through various online fundraising platforms including Donorbox. Their Donorbox plea read, "Our mission is to raise awareness about racism, bigotry, police brutality and hate crimes by exposing through social media locally and internationally stories that the mainstream media don't. We have built a following through hard work, dedication and the generosity of supporters like you that pitch in what they can do to help us promote or share our page and also pay to boost the stories the mainstream media tries to suppress through paid ads."

Another website associated with Mackay and which was also removed billed itself as an "Education and Training Portal Sponsorship Fund" that promised "online courses that educate people about the struggle of civil rights leaders and activists."


Typically, Facebook refused to comment when asked if ads were purchased to boost the page on its platform although after the exposure by CNN the fake sites were removed although the closure was very reluctant with Facebook claiming that its own investigation "didn't show anything that violated our Community Standards". What "community standards"?

Even more alarmingly, an analysis by the US Counter Extremism Project (CEP) has shown that Facebook has allowed Islamic State to establish a growing virtual presence with which to radicalise, recruit and support as well as potentially plan and direct terrorist attacks.

Since the revelations of Facebook sharing the private information about tens of millions of users, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has launched what he probably had hoped was a charm crusade in the USA , the UK and Europe. All reports of his crusade have not been encouraging for him.

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About the Author

Russell Grenning is a retired political adviser and journalist who began his career at the ABC in 1968 and subsequently worked for the then Brisbane afternoon daily, The Telegraph and later as a columnist for The Courier Mail and The Australian.

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Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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