Social media giants pull One Nation satire video over voter fraud claims
“We regularly receive data from births, deaths and marriages to take deceased Australians off the roll. We also validate postal vote applications against the roll prior to distribution and again upon receipt of a completed postal vote.”
He said while the AEC did not have a role in regulating truth in political speech, it was concerned when Australia’s electoral processes or integrity measures were misrepresented and had spoken to social media platforms about the ad.
Ashby said the series sought to strike a balance between comedy, getting a punchy message across in a minute or two, and the truth. He pointed to a 2017 Crikey article when pressed for evidence of voter fraud.
On Friday the AEC referred a One Nation candidate for the seat of Banks in NSW, Malcolm Heffernan, to the Australian Federal Police for allegedly also standing for election in Western Australia for another minor party. A One Nation spokesman said it was disappointed with the AEC for not detecting the issue sooner, would co-operate with the AFP and undertake an internal investigation. Heffernan told other media outlets he was unaware he was running in multiple seats.
TikTok, the short form video social network, and Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, have both removed the latest Please Explain video for breaching their policies on election misinformation and voter interference respectively.
YouTube did not respond to repeated requests for comment. The video remains online at Google’s video-sharing site, where it had received 35,000 views just after 5pm.
A Labor spokesman said: “We won’t dignify this rubbish [in the video] with a response.”
Aside from the most recent video, Please Explain has been edgy but largely uncontroversial. Ashby picks the topic for each video based on the politics of the day, which can range from inflation, to housing prices, excise tax or senior Labor women’s alleged mistreatment toward their late colleague Kimberly Kitching.
Analysis from Crowdtangle, a social media analytics tool owned by Meta, shows many episodes have received more than 200,000 views on the company’s platforms alone.
Facebook audience data for One Nation’s page provided by Ashby show about 10 per cent of its audience is men aged 25-34, with about 8 per cent women in that age range. Eighteen to 24-year-old men make up less than 5 per cent, with women about 2 per cent. But Ashby said those figures had all been a “crazy” improvement on the party’s previous audience.
“It’s worked strongly to bolster One Nation’s future,” he said.
So far, Ashby said, the series has been funded by merchandise sales such as a gin, stubby coolers and posters branded with images from the show. “I can’t even tell you how many I’ve sold, its ridiculous,” Ashby said of the stubby coolers.
He said he had only once pushed back against the comedic and scripting decisions taken by Stepmates. That was on an episode in which Prime Minister Scott Morrison finds himself unable to lie because of a birthday wish by Barnaby Joyce. Joyce becomes so unhappy at what he has done to the Prime Minister that he is about to commit suicide.
“I said ‘no, no, no, too far’,” Ashby said. “That was the only time I’ve had to pull the boys back.”
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