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Facebook Exposes Nonprofits to Donors And Hackers

Some nonprofit leaders say its effort to prioritize charitable giving rings hollow

AS THE FOUNDER and director of a nonprofit animal shelter on the East Coast, Alana has spent most of the past decade caring for pets that might otherwise be euthanized. Her work also resonates with people online—the Facebook page for the shelter has more than 1.3 million followers. But in August, she noticed something strange: A series of unfamiliar posts began appearing on the page, and no one at the shelter could say where they were coming from. For several days, Alana and her staff simply deleted them. It didn’t initially occur to Alana that her account may have been breached.

Then, in the early morning hours of August 19, a link to a fraudulent GoFundMe fund-raiser appeared on the shelter’s page, claiming the nonprofit was raising money for pets displaced by wildfires thousands of miles away in California. By the time Alana spotted the fund-raiser, it had already raised around $1,500. She quickly crafted a Facebook post alerting donors that it was fake, but it was useless. “The post was immediately removed,” says Alana, who for privacy reasons requested that her last name and the name of the shelter not be used.

Another staff member soon discovered that a stranger had been added as an administrator to the shelter’s Facebook page nearly two months earlier, silently waiting for the right opportunity to act. In a Facebook Messenger chat, the stranger warned the animal shelter to stop telling people the fund-raiser was bogus. “If I see one more post we will delete the page forever,” he wrote.

Please select this link to read the complete article from WIRED.

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