Fire victim Facebook page shut down
A VOLUNTEER community group that has raised thousands of dollars' worth of both supplies and monetary donations for animals affected by the bushfires has had its page unexpectedly suspended by Facebook.
The distressed director of the Mount Gravatt-based Rescue Collective, Nicole Blums, said she was now worried about the group's transparency as people who had donated either money or supplies wondered what happened.
"Without having our Facebook page, we have lost a bit of our transparency," an emotional Miss Blums said.
"The whole purpose of the Rescue Collective is we do our work with the community, the community helps provide things.
"We wanted to be able to take them on a journey with us by showing them beautiful photos and videos."
Miss Blums, 39, said due to the increased traffic to their page following the bushfires, she had set up a bot to help answer messages, similar to what other groups on Facebook have done.
"We have had nearly six million views on our page and we had three messages a minute coming in for a week straight," she said.
"We did have a computer programmer put a bot in there so it helped direct people where to go to donate.
"But because we had so many messages, I guess the algorithm made it look like we were spamming people."
Miss Blums said the page was suddenly unpublished about 10am Saturday.
She said the group did not receive notice the page would be suspended and had applied for it to be reinstated, but were still waiting.
More than $423,000 had been raised out of a goal of $220,000 through the Rescue Collective's fundraising page, hosted by their sister rescue, The Mini Kitty Commune.
Miss Blums said the Rescue Collective, which she formed 18 months ago, had also received about $200,000 worth of donated medical items, formula and other needed supplies to help animals.
"I've worked in animal rescue for a long time and I saw a desperate need for supplies and equipment," she said.
"I thought, I could build a community where anybody can help make a difference.
"If anyone had a few medical supplies in their cupboard, or a towel, I thought collectively by donating a little bit we could make a big difference to the animal world."
The Rescue Collective does not take on animals, but distributes donated funds and supplies to those caring for wildlife.
Miss Blums said they could also not get in touch with people who had sent messages to their page and offered to provide volunteer transport.
"I'm starting to get emails questioning my authenticity which really breaks my heart," she said, as she fought back tears.
"The world is rife with dishonest people. We see them in every industry.
"Being a collective of community people we need the people to know who we are and what we're doing."
Miss Blums, who is in the process of applying for charity status for the collective, expressed her gratitude to the community for everything already donated.
The Courier Mail has contacted Facebook for comment.