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Black Lives Matter Is Bringing Food To Victims Of Harvey, But People Are Sharing A False Story About BLM Blocking Relief Efforts

Black Lives Matter Houston is actively providing relief, but a story claiming the opposite has been shared to millions of people.

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A false claim that Black Lives Matter activists blocked Hurricane Harvey relief efforts has gone viral on several large conservative Facebook pages. The stories use a false headline and photo to trick readers into clicking through to a story that has nothing to do with Black Lives Matter.

The two false articles, from Mr. Conservative and Conservative Post, have identical headlines and use an image taken in 2015 in Boston as their thumbnail.

BuzzFeed

People who click through are presented with an article that reports on a real protest from members of the Texas Young Democrats. They held signs and protested President Trump when he arrived in Austin to show support for those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

As of this writing, the stories had racked up more than 120,000 shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook after being shared by more than 10 pages that collectively have more than 12 million fans.

At some point after a tweet from a BuzzFeed News reporter about the fake story went viral, the Mr. Conservative website removed all of its content. But that didn't stop Conservative Post from publishing a copycat article the same day.

Meanwhile, the reality is that Black Lives Matter Houston has been active in relief efforts by collecting food for shelters, gathering school supplies for kids who start classes soon, and bringing food and supplies to families and individuals.

This is actually the second wave of false stories claiming that BLM interfered with Harvey relief efforts. Days earlier, OurLandOfTheFree.com published a completely false story with the same claim. That site claims to be satirical and discloses on its homepage that all of its stories are fake.

ourlandofthefree.com

The site is run by a Maine man named Christopher Lyman who goes by the online handle Busta Troll. He is a self-described liberal troll who says his goal is to trick conservatives with fake stories. His fake story used a photo taken last year in Atlanta during a BLM protest.

After his story went live, a group of other websites, likely run by people in Eastern Europe, quickly copied it, according to Snopes.

BuzzFeed

BuzzFeed News reported on this pattern of publishers in Macedonia, Kosovo, and the Republic of Georgia copying Lyman's stories earlier this year.

So, to recap: Black Lives Matter is helping with relief efforts in Houston, and the stories claiming otherwise were created by hoaxsters and hyperpartisan publishers to make money and create confusion.

Craig Silverman is Media Editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto.

Contact Craig Silverman at craig.silverman@buzzfeed.com.

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