Day 6

Fake Facebook pages are making money off Standing Rock

During the Standing Rock protests, Native American artists designed Standing Rock merchandise to raise money and awareness for this cause. Since then, counterfeiters from halfway across the globe have taken to Facebook to market their own fake merchandise, scoring a profit off the struggle of these Native Americans.
Authentic Standing Rock shirts being sold by actress Shailene Woodley. (https://www.omaze.com/made/standing-rock)
Listen7:52

It was a victory for activists and community members at Standing Rock last Sunday, when the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers put a halt to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Native American and other activists celebrate after victory over Dakota Pipeline Access project. ( Scott Olson/ Getty Images)

For months, thousands of protesters spoke out against the building of the pipeline, especially because of the impact it could have on the neighbouring Standing Rock Sioux. One of those protestors was actress Shailene Woodley, who made her own Standing Rock T-shirts and hoodies, to raise awareness around the issue.

Actress Shailene Woodley (bottom right) and other celebrities wearing her Standing Rock T-shirt. (https://www.omaze.com/made/standing-rock)

Many Native American artists also designed their own merchandise to raise money for the cause. But in the midst of this call to action, some saw an opportunity to make a profit for themselves.

A recent BuzzFeed investigation uncovered over 60 fake Facebook pages purporting to be dedicated to Native American issues, including Standing Rock.

"When you looked really closely, you could see that they were either trying to sell as much merchandise as they could," Craig Silverman, News Editor at BuzzFeed told Day 6 host Brent Bambury. "Or, they were dropping in links to sites that sometimes were completely unrelated to Native American issues."

Many of these fake pages are run by individuals as far away as Vietnam and Kosovo, and there is no evidence to suggest that any of the money they are making is being donated to the causes they claim to represent.

Silverman spoke to one individual in Kosovo who, along with a partner, had roughly 13 Facebook pages where he was making money by selling fake Native American goods.

Aside from diverting money, these fraudulent pages are using designs that have been taken illegally from Native American artists, who are getting no compensation for the use of their work.

Another offender identified by BuzzFeed is a page called "Indigenous People of America" which is still active, and has over 750,000 fans.

It is linked to an online store that sells knockoff versions of Native American designs and other merchandise, including Woodley's.

Fake Standing Rock merchandise being sold through Indigenous People of America's Facebook page