Good Cause? Fake Account!


Zack Hunsaker & Evan Gobien

Bahama Shirt Project Graphic

Sudan Meal Project, Bahama Shirt Project, and Project Congo. These organizations collect donations toward good causes, right? Fake!

There are many types of fake Instagram accounts. The First being bots, these accounts pose as real people for advertisement purposes and have he ability to follow, like, view and comment on your page like an actual person.

Everyone is at risk of following and believing fake Instagram accounts.

Scary, right? According to Instagram there have been as many as 95 million bots posing as real accounts. Bots have been recently on the rise coming in at 9.5% of the active monthly users .

Some fake accounts are run by an actual person, either posing as somebody else or as an organization. These ones are almost impossible to recognize. There are not any accurate statistics on these accounts since they are harder to decipher from bots. These accounts are a real threat on Instagram. They pose as legitimate fundraisers, engaging in conversations with followers.

Fake charity Instagram accounts have been popping up throughout 2019. These pages are extremely problematic because they are hard to tell apart from real charity pages. These accounts have become a real threat because of how much money they manage to steal. Between the end of 2017 and beginning of 2018, Facebook shut down nearly 1.2 billion fake accounts.

One Instagram page, “Sudan Meal Project”, was created the week of June 10. Millions of people started to follow and like posts on the page, which even garnered attention from celebrities such as Demi Lovato and Kehlani. Users changed their profile pictures to a blue background in support of the cause.

While it did help raise awareness, hardly anyone realized that it was a scam. The account promised that for every story repost it got, they would donate one meal to Sudan. It was not made clear on the page what specific people would receive the meals: impoverished families, starving children, or other groups.

Less than a week after it emerged, the Sudan Meal Project page was taken down. Hundreds of copycat accounts mimicked the Sudan Meal Project under very similar names.

The Instagram account, “Bahama Shirt Project”, surfaced soon after Hurricane Dorian devastated the Bahamas. The account requested that people buy their shirts, and, in return, they would donate the earnings to humanitarian aid in the Bahamas. The page was quite popular, gaining about 10,000 followers. Bahama Shirt Project was unclear about where the money would go and blocked those who made inquiries.

Having a large base of followers seems to be the key to gaining attention for any Instagram account. The reason the Sudan Meal Project and Bahama Shirt Project went viral is because they both tapped into what’s in the news.

For example, to show support for the Sudan Meal Project, organizers suggested you change your profile picture to the color blue and post on your story showing support as well as a link to their page.

GoFundMe from their National Center for Disaster Fraud phone number said they had no record of the Bahama Shirt Project. Go Fund Me said employees review every account and do background research on the campaign to make sure it isn’t fake.

Austin Rohn said, “I followed the Bahama Shirt Project thinking it was a legit account. Luckily I did not donate to the fake cause.”

There are a vast number of ways to show your support for a cause, and one way is to make sure any donations you make go to a legitimate cause. There are official channels for disaster relief, like the Red Cross.  Research before you make any donations.