Instagram accounts claiming they exchange donations for clicks, likes, and shares have been appearing on the social media alongside other legitimate charities.
The Sudan crisis has been gaining more attention online since the death of Mohamed Mattar, a Sudanese activist. Mattar was among the 100 people killed in Khartoum earlier this June in an attack against Sudanese pro-democracy protesters.
Since then, social media users everywhere have been sharing posts and bringing awareness to the situation in the country of Sudan. However, some have seen the crisis as a means for self-promotion.
A large number of accounts started showing up, seemingly with the sole purpose to aid the people affected by the political crisis. A lot of these were called “Sudan Meal Project” and promised to send donations in exchange for clicks. Some accumulated hundreds of thousands of followers.
However, there was no real evidence that any of the Instagram pages were aiding the people of Sudan.
This story first came into focus after Taylor Lorenz published a detailed list of fake charities for the Atlantic.
Afterward, most of the popular accounts were removed from Instagram. However, some still remain.
One of the biggest helpers when it comes to the take-down of the exploitive “charities” has been 14-year-old Nico. He has been spending his free time researching different aid accounts, including the Sudan ones. Nico has reported that some of the accounts have offered him money in exchange for a promotion. He has refused these bribes and continues to expose the scammers.
Why Would Someone Do This?
The main purpose of these kinds of accounts has to be popularity. When an account gains sizeable followership, its options for advertising and monetization increase.
This means that after the account is done with their fake Sudan charity identity, it can go on a different endeavor.
It has already been reported that some of the Sudan-related accounts have switched to unrelated Fortnite or meme related pages.
Several legitimate charities have come out to criticize the exploiters. Joe English from the UNICEF has noted how the existence of such accounts is an unfortunate reflection of the modern society.
Instagram itself has confirmed the takedown of a major Sudan-related account. The company reported that the number of fake accounts they delete goes into millions, but they did not reveal how many of those were Sudan “charities.”