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Meta (formerly known as Facebook) has rejected United Australia Party leader Craig Kelly’s demand to remove fact-checking on politicians' posts on the social media platform ahead of the Federal election campaign.
At a Parliamentary committee examining social media and online safety, Kelly called for ‘no foreign interference by Meta in the Australian election’ through blocking, shadow-banning or removing political candidates or parties from the platform.
However, Meta’s Head of Public Policy in Australia, Josh Machin said that removing or restricting fact-checking would violate Facebook Community Standards.
Kelly then asked if posts would still be fact-checked or their reach would be restricted or removed, to which Malin enforced Meta’s policies wouldn’t change ahead of the election campaign.
“If a piece of content violates our community standards then yes, we’ll be removing it,”
“And that’s a really important protection that we have in place in order to protect the safety and the integrity of the election campaign.”
Kelly then argued that these policies breached freedom of speech. Still, Malin assured the United Australia Party leader that these rules applied to every politician and the rest of the general public.
This is not the first time Kelly has received a slap of the wrists from Facebook. Last year, Kelly was banned from the platform for spreading misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine by promoting ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine as treatments against Australia’s medical advice.
But Kelly argued that ‘It is not misinformation if you have a difference of opinion’.
However, a Facebook spokesperson enforced they, ‘don't allow anyone, including elected officials, to share misinformation about COVID-19 that could lead to imminent physical harm or COVID-19 vaccines that have been debunked by public health experts.”
"We have clear policies against this type of content and have removed Mr Kelly's Facebook Page for repeated violations of this policy."
Despite Kelly's ban, The United Australia Party has a large presence online. A Google's Transparency Report revealed in January 2022 the party had spent more than $5 million on advertising - officially outspending all Australian brands online and 100 times more than any other political party.
And my god, if Kelly keeps writing those fat cheques, you can expect to see a whole lot more of The United Australia Party online, so long as they comply with Facebook Community Standards.