July 19, 2019
Africa

Fake Instagram accounts are hijacking Sudan solidarity campaign

The country has been plagued by widespread violence since the ousting of longtime dictator President Omar al-Bashir in April.Last week, people on social media started turning their profile pictures blue in a bid to raise awareness about the ongoing humanitarian crisis.Blue was chosen to honor Mohamed Hashim Mattar, a 26-year-old Sudanese who was allegedly shot dead by the Sudanese paramilitary Rapid Support Forces during a crackdown on protesters in the country's capital, Khartoum, on June 3. In a Twitter post, Amnesty International Australia said blue was reportedly Mattar's favorite color.While celebrities including Rihanna put up the color on their profiles, along with hashtags like #BlueForSudan, others apparently decided to set up bogus Instagram accounts to exploit the campaign to get more followers and shares. One account, @SudanMealProject, gathered nearly 400,000 followers in less than a week before Instagram removed it for violating its policies. The account posted a blue photo in reference to #BlueForSudan along with an appeal to follow and share the post. "For every person who follows and shares this on their story we will provide one meal to starving Sudanese children," it read. No reference was given to any recognized aid agency working in Sudan or how the meals would be distributed — despite the fact that a number of established charities have been working to help victims of the country's humanitarian crisis.How to help SudanAfter the post went viral, many people on Instagram and Twitter started doubting the veracity of its claims. Media outlets such as The Atlantic also reported that @SudanMealProject was fake. In a statement to CNN, an Instagram spokesperson confirmed it removed the account from the platform for violating its policies. "We will continue to look into this matter and disable further accounts we find in violation of our policies," the spokesperson said. A quick search on Instagram shows that dozens of bogus accounts with names similar to "Sudan Meal Project" — using the same appeal and blue photo — are still populating the social media platform. One account namedRead More – Source

CNN

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