Following our analysis of the Boycott Halal in Australia page published yesterday, the page is concerned they may soon be closed. In response they are encouraging their supporters to join what they describe as their main page “Boycott Halal” (ID: 160347640662396). In doing so they exposed a little secret we at OHPI have known for years. Boycott Halal in Australia was never an Australian made campaign. It has always been part of a global astroturfing effort which started in the UK. Those behind this bigoted campaign have tried to create the impression of a global movement by making a whole serious of local looking pages. It’s deeply unfortunately that the one in Australia took off and  became a real movement while so many others faded away.

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When OHPI was first founded in January 2012, this page already had around 3,700 members and was a little over a year old. The page was actually created on October 22, 2010, although as part of its astroturfing make-believe it claims it was created in 1995. That claim, like much else on the page, is not accurate and most reasonable people will see through it. After all, Facebook itself was only launched in 2004 (a full 9 years after this page claims to have been created).

In any case, by October of 2013 the page had reached 12,608 fans. The audience was 36% British, 19% American and 9% Australian with a wide range of other countries represented. Australia was already unfortunately very over represented compared to the size of our population.

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Around this time the page went into a panic about infiltrators, and began culling their numbers. Much like the Australian page is now doing.

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By November 2014, however, the page had recovered and had over 50,600 supporters. The number of supporters from Australia cotninued to grow at a disproportional rate. The city with the most supporters on this page, not by percentage but by raw numbers, was Brisbane.

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As long as our funding lasts, we’ll continue to monitor the situation, as we have been since we were created in 2012. You can help us continue this work, and all the other work we do against a wide range of online hate, with a tax deductible donation. Without the public’s support, our important work can’t continue. You can also help us by sharing this briefing.