False Claims on Corporate Donations to Black Lives Matter
By Saranac Hale Spencer
Posted on August 25, 2020
Posts on social media repeat an error reported by Lou Dobbs on Fox Business in July, claiming that major corporations were donating large sums of money to Black Lives Matter. The companies have pledged support for racial equality initiatives, but haven’t specified Black Lives Matter as a beneficiary.
Bogus claims about major corporations donating hundreds of millions of dollars to Black Lives Matter have been circulating on social media, but they appear to be based on faulty reporting by Fox News host Lou Dobbs in July.
Dobbs showed a list purporting to include “Fortune 500 companies who’ve pledged to BLM” during the July 16 edition of his show on the Fox Business Network. The list claimed that Bank of America would give $1 billion; PepsiCo, $400 million; Walmart, $100 million; Apple, $100 million; and Comcast, $100 million.
The following day, Dobbs issued a correction on his show and posted this statement on both Twitter and Facebook: “The large amounts of money were not for Black Lives Matter but rather pledges of investments to address economic and racial inequality. We apologize to each of these companies for our mistake and we apologize to you for the error.”
But pictures of the original list continued to be shared online after the correction, and the individual claims have been separated and shared in several different, viral social media posts. One such post has been shared 29,000 times on Facebook, while Dobbs’ correction on that platform was shared 367 times. The correction got roughly the same number of shares on Twitter.
One popular text post aimed at Bank of America gave a nod to the boogaloo movement, a right-wing extremist ideology that stokes fear about impending civil war. Referring to the $1 billion promised by Bank of America, it said: “That’s war money ladies and gentleman [sic]. It’s coming.”
Another widely shared post aimed at PepsiCo called on consumers to boycott the company, saying, “PEPSI JUST GAVE BLM A HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS….PLEASE BOYCOTT PEPSI !!”
While each of the companies mentioned has pledged to give the listed amounts to support various racial equality initiatives, none has specifically mentioned Black Lives Matter as a beneficiary.
Click the links below to see the announcements made by each company:
Alix Ekstrom, a spokeswoman for Pepsi, confirmed to FactCheck.org that the brand hasn’t made any such donation. “Pepsi has not contributed to the Black Lives Matter organization,” she said in an email.
William Halldin, a spokesman for Bank of America, explained in a phone interview with FactCheck.org that the company tends to donate to nonprofits that deliver specific programming.
Also, separate from the new, four-year, $1 billion initiative, Bank of America has a policy of matching employee donations to qualified nonprofits with 501(c)(3) tax status, Halldin said. As we’ve explained before, Black Lives Matter uses ActBlue Charities, a registered 501(c)(3), to collect donations. So, it’s possible that Bank of America has given money to Black Lives Matter through the matching program, which Halldin described as “employee-driven.”
Jennifer Rodriguez, a Walmart spokeswoman, said in an email to FactCheck.org, that the company plans to support organizations over the next five years that deal with the financial, health care, educational and criminal justice systems.
“The donations are still in development and, at this time, no particular one organization has been selected,” Rodriguez said.
It’s possible that some of these companies have given money to Black Lives Matter through matching employee donation programs that are unrelated to the recently announced donation plans, as Halldin described. It’s also possible that some of them may end up giving money to Black Lives Matter in the future. But it’s not true that any of them gave Black Lives Matter the large sums of money that they’ve recently allocated to address racial equality.
Black Lives Matter didn’t respond to our request for comment.
Dobbs, Lou. “Lou Dobbs Tonight – Thursday, July 16.” Foxbusiness.com. 16 Jul 2020.
Dobbs, Lou. “Dobbs clarifies large corporations investing in racial justice, not donating to Black Lives Matter.” Foxbusiness.com. 17 Jul 2020.
Dobbs, Lou (@LouDobbs). “The large amounts of money were not for Black Lives Matter but rather pledges of investments to address economic and racial inequality. We apologize to each of these companies for our mistake and we apologize to you for the error.” Twitter. 17 Jul 2020.
New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness. “Boogaloo Movement Gains Traction Amid Civil Unrest.” Accessed 25 Aug. 2020.
Pineda, Khrysgiana. “The boogaloo movement is gaining momentum. Who are the boogaloo ‘bois’ and what do they want?” USA Today. 19 Jun 2020.
Bank of America. Press release. “Bank of America Announces $1 Billion/4-Year Commitment to Support Economic Opportunity Initiatives.” 2 Jun 2020.
PepsiCo. Press release. “PepsiCo’s journey to racial equality — A message from our CEO.” Accessed 21 Aug 2020.
Walmart. Press release. “Making a Difference in Racial Equity: Walmart CEO Doug McMillon’s Full Remarks.” Accessed 24 Aug 2020.
Cook, Tim (@tim_cook). “The unfinished work of racial justice and equality call us all to account. Things must change, and Apple’s committed to being a force for that change. Today, I’m proud to announce Apple’s Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, with a $100 million commitment.” Twitter. 11 Jun 2020.
Comcast. Press release. “Comcast Announces $100 Million Multiyear Plan to Advance Social Justice and Equality.” 8 Jun 2020.
Ekstrom, Alix. Spokeswoman, PepsiCo. Email exchange. 25 Aug 2020.
Halldin, William. Spokesman, Bank of America. Telephone interview. 24 Aug 2020.
Fichera, Angelo. “Donations to Black Lives Matter Group Don’t Go to DNC.” FactCheck.org. 12 Jun 2020.
Rodriguez, Jennifer. Spokeswoman, Walmart. Email exchange. 24 Aug 2020.