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Dozens of fake “BBC News groups” are misleading users on Facebook

On Facebook, many groups named after the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) exist and are taken as a social representation of the platform. Capitalising on the reputation of BBC, over 30 pages were found to be impersonating BBC news on Facebook, thus misleading users to believe such pages are actually from BBC.

Apparently, the large membership, reactions and comments  they have garnered from users in a short period of time confirm that most of these vulnerable users saw the platform as an actual BBC page on Facebook. 

In one of such groups, named “BBC News Nigeria”, a video was posted advertising a business that would double the investment of users in just two hours if they choose to adopt the scheme. The page contained the BBC theme picture and shared information about BBC News Nigeria. 

The post on an acclaimed “BBC Nigeria group” pledging to give users double their money if they invest

Although Dubawa’s investigations on such a money-doubling scheme have proven that it is a ruse to defraud unsuspecting members of the public, some users seem to subscribe to the advert, asking questions as to how they can invest and the amount required. 

Some comments made by users showing interest in the said business (highlighted in pink)

Yet, details about the group show it was only recently created on January 15, 2022 and has so far made only two posts; one about the video advertising the money doubling scheme and the other an upload of a BBC cover page. 

Details of the group showed it was only created in January 2022

Similarly, another different group, named “BBC News NI” apparently not a genuine BBC-owned group, is advertising to members a sort of supernatural help that will take them out of poverty. Created in July 2021, the group has garnered over 200 registered subscribers.

The acclaimed “BBC News NI” advertising a scheme that will rescue users from poverty 

Some of these groups have amassed substantial membership and keep sharing unfounded and controversial topics. A typical example is the  group “BBC News + BBC”. The group has over 40k registered members and its contents cut across religion, nudity, and politics. 

A typical content from the page

The group was created in 2015 but changed its name to “BBC NEWS+BBC” in 2019. While it has dozens of contents posted, none of it is linked to the actual BBC website or any of its affiliates. 

The acclaimed BBC NEWS+ BBC page

An urgent need for action

Across the Facebook platform, there are close to 30 such groups impersonating BBC and misleading the public. Some of these groups have changed names more than five times and are created by individuals who have no apparent ties to BBC. Also, all the contents shared on these groups possess no apparent relationship with BBC; it’s either advertising something or promoting a certain cause.  

Even more alarming is the fact that over 80% of them were created between 2020 and 2022 and the massive number of followers they have garnered in such a short time can only be linked to use of BBC’s name. On average, the groups have a membership of over 30k users, with one group having over 103k users.  For example, this group, “BBC NEWS” has 103k members and shares topics around politics, nudity, comedy, and religious matters with none related to BBC. 

Are the kinds of content they put out credible?

The contents shared across these groups are largely political propaganda, religious matters, comedy and unsubstantiated news reports.  For example, in this group, BBC News shared a  video report about a clash between Indian border forces and the Pakistanis. Though the report promised to show more details in the video, it turns out that it was a static video showing only one frame. 

A misleading news report shared on the group to mislead users

Similarly, another group, also named BBC News, shared a report about a youth uprising in Delta State, Nigeria.  A picture of an angry mob carrying all sorts of things also accompanied the post. 

A report about a youth uprising in Delta state, Nigeria. 

Yet in reality, there were no such crises and in fact, the picture used with the narrative was taken from a 2013 report about the Offa/Erin-Ile crisis in Kwara State, Nigeria. Though comments were made, over 12k users came across the post. 

Picture used in the misleading report was taken from this report

Real BBC pages on facebook

Real BBC pages on Facebook are verified with the blue ticked symbol and all BBC facebook verified pages are not enclosed groups but ‘like’ pages. Noticeably, all the imposter BBC pages are running an enclosed member ‘groups’ and not a Facebook ‘like’ page. Some of BBC’s verified pages on Facebook include: BBC News, BBC Comedy, BBC Pidgin, BBC Hausa, BBC Igbo etc. all pages are verified open pages not enclosed groups. 

An an actual verified BBC News page on Facebook 

Links to these groups on Facebook 

In total, these groups have 3 million members on Facebook. See details below:

BBC NEWS: 23.4K members

BBC NEWS: 103.1k members

GB BBC News GB: 50.1k members

BBC  NEWS:70.5k members

BBC NEWS: 58k members

BBC NEWS: 97.8k members

BBC News Africa: 7.5K members

BBC NEWS: 176.5K members

BBC NEWS: 12.6K members

BBC News Africa: 5.3k members

BBC World News: 89.7k members

BBC NEWS+BBC: 46.4K members

BBC focus on South Sudan News: 8k members

BBC NEWS: 222K members

BBC News.com: 22.1k members

BBC News Viral: 1.7k members

BBC NEWS ENTERTAINMENT: 2.1k members

BBC Igbo only fake news they sabi: 463 members

BBC NEWS: 6.6k members

BBC RECORD LONDON NEWS: 1.6K members

BBC NEWS: 334 members

BBC NEWS NI: 238 members

BBC NEWS TODAY: 47.1k members

BBC World News: 11.4k members

BBC NEWS NIGERIA: 1.7k members

BBC NEWS: 142 members

Facebook Policy on impersonation 

The Facebook policy clearly discourages impersonation and in April 2017, the company launched a war against the spread of misinformation on its platform. 

Notwithstanding, these groups seem to thrive on the platform with no apparent sanctions. An obvious reason may be because Facebook cannot recognise a fake page  unless it gets reported; more reason why  the platform has outlined ways users report impersonation or fake pages. 

Is the BBC aware of these groups?

The BBC, is yet to respond to the email sent to them regarding the issue and no report has so far shown whether the news company is aware of this massive impersonation of its platform on Facebook. Yet, one fact clearly identified that  these groups share no affiliation with BBC and is only capitalising on the existing gap to mislead users. 

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