Fake News. Fake Fundraising.
Sooner or later the fake news scams, hoaxes and parodies that marked this past campaign season on social media had to spill over into online fundraising.
To refresh your short-term memory, you’ll recall the press chastising conservative Facebook users for sharing stories that had nothing to do with reality. Hundreds of thousands of people shared stories asserting incorrectly that President Obama had banned the pledge of allegiance in public schools, that Pope Francis had endorsed Donald Trump, and that Trump had dispatched his personal plane to save 200 starving marines.
But, just as I was fearing that here in the United States we’d lost our ability to enjoy and appreciate satire, I received a link seeking a contribution to the Bowling Green Massacre Fund.
You’ll recall that Kellyanne Conway, the adviser to President Trump who coined the phrase “alternative facts”, just faced another round of criticism and media fact-checking after she falsely spoke of a “Bowling Green massacre”.
On MSNBC’s Hardball she told host Chris Mathews that the Executive Order by President Trump suspending immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries was based in part on a “massacre” conducted by Iraqi refugees.
“I bet it’s brand new information to people that President Obama had a six month ban on the Iraqi refugee program after two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalized and were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre,” she said. ‘Most people don’t know that because it didn’t get covered.”
Although Kellyanne quickly recanted her story following a burst of media fact-checking, the hoax didn’t stop there. Not at all.
Some creative, parody-minded progressives quickly moved to convert Kellyanne’s fake news into a fake online fundraising appeal urging readers to “Join us in directly supporting the victims and families directly affected by the Bowling Green Massacre by donating to the Bowling Green Massacre Victims Fund.”
I clicked on the “DONATE” button and …
… was taken to the Donation Page of The American Civil Liberties Union inviting me to become a Freedom Fighter and to join the ACLU — preferably as a monthly donor.
I have no idea who these satirists are. The page source on the site indicates only: “Parody. Not affiliated with anyone in particular.” The site was built using Squarespace’s most basic template and the privacy of the owners of the domain name is protected. Some among the gang must be pros, because the images all use Adobe’s Imageready.
Of three things I’m certain: 1) I’m thrilled that parody is still alive in these dark days; 2) I hope the ACLU gained some support from this unauthorized action; and 3) we’d all do well to see who’s linking to our donation pages. [Have someone with authorized access to your site check it out with Google Webmaster.]
And … no, thank you. I’ve already given to The Fund for the Widow of The Unknown Soldier.