Over the weekend, an account called "Sudan Meal Project" surfaced on Instagram and promised that every share of its post to a story would mean one meal donation to Sudanese children.
The account posted a blue photo to fit in with the social media movement in remembrance of Mohamed Hashim Mattar, who died following a military crackdown on peaceful protesters.
The post's caption said:
For every STORY REPOST this post gets, we will provide one meal to Sudanese children 👈
Click on the paper plane next to the comment button and tap “add to story” to repost
Comment “DONE 🇸🇩” after you repost
Half of South Sudan's population is facing extreme hunger, the country's highest proportion of food insecure people in the last 10 years. More than six million people currently need urgent food assistance, including more than one million children. Near-famine conditions are predicted in four of South Sudan's states, a rapid and worrying increase from 2017, in which famine was only declared in one state.
PLEASE READ OUR HIGHLIGHTED STORY FOR MORE INFO 👉 @sudanmealproject
The account had a highlight explaining what is going on in Sudan, and the Instagram post went on to get over 1 million likes.
Many influencers and celebs, such as Ayesha Omar and Christi Lukasiak, liked the post and commented "done" once they had shared the post as instructed. They both have more than 2 million followers.
But as time went on, people started to question the legitimacy of sharing the post in exchange for a donation.
The page responded that it did not realise that the account was growing so fast, and it is considering a new way of donating.
And that the account's managers were trying to find a way to donate money.
A lot of scam Instagram pages tend to rebrand after gaining followers, and some people thought that it could be a possibility with this page.
Instagram user @julzhmc posted a screenshot of a conversation they said they had with @sudanmealproject, accusing it of creating the account for clout. The post went viral. But the screenshot appears to be an edited photo.
Taylor Lorenz, a staff writer at The Atlantic who also reported on the Sudan Meal Project story, told BuzzFeed News she spoke to @julzhmc via DM and that they told her it was photoshopped.
According to the screenshots Lorenz showed BuzzFeed News, @julzhmc had apologised to her for photoshopping the messages. BuzzFeed News has contacted @julzhmc to ask them about the screenshots.
@Sudanmealproject ended up changing its username to @sudanplan but people were tracking it. It had over 300,000 followers before the account disappeared.
People were disgusted by the Instagram page.
And have been urging others not to interact.
Multiple copycat pages surfaced on Instagram since and are still active; some are selling products that they claim will fund Sudan relief projects.
A spokesperson for Instagram told BuzzFeed News that the account has since been removed.
"We will continue to look into this matter and disable further accounts we find in violation of our policies," the spokesperson added.
A screenshot of a conversation Instagram user @julzhmc said they had with @sudanmealproject has been removed from this post after BuzzFeed News saw DMs that showed @julzhmc saying the screenshot had been photoshopped.