We regret to you inform you that Australian politician George Christensen is back on his bullshit, this time suggesting a non-sensical law that would prohibit social media platforms from moderating their services at all.
After Christensen posted an article to his Facebook Page that was determined to be false by Facebook’s fact-checking partners and following Trump’s suspension from Twitter, the Far North Queensland MP launched a campaign that he hoped would solve this.
On his website, Christensen is running a petition (see: harvesting contact details to build email lists) to tell his own party room member, Communications Minister Paul Fletcher, to take away tech platforms’ ability to remove content unless it’s illegal.
“We urge you to support the push by George Christensen MP to introduce laws that stop social media platforms from censoring lawful speech in Australia,” his website reads.
“We ask that, as a matter of urgency, you legislate to ensure Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other social media platforms can no longer ban, censor, suspend, ‘fact-check’ or shadow ban users for posting content which is lawful in Australia.
“Given the power that Big Tech has in providing a platform for public discourse, we consider that failing to act on their censorship would be a DANGER TO DEMOCRACY!”
George Christensen’s proposal echoes Trump’s similarly non-sensical, failed attempt to reform 230 of the US’ Communications Decency Act.
And as written, this law would render the internet unusable.
Tech platforms are constantly removing content and users that are lawful, but make for a terrible user experience.
Spam, gore and nudity are just some of the pieces of content that are perfectly legal but would make using these services really unenjoyable.
Remember the bad old days of Nike high heels and seeing videos of people being hit by cars on the timeline? Not ideal!
If we give George Christensen the benefit of the doubt and assume he just wants to outlaw fact-checking by platforms, even that would make things worse.
Facebook’s fact-checking program has it’s problems but it certainly better than the alternative: allowing false claims to be spread wildly on the platform without any consequence (which mostly happens except for the small number of claims checked).
Given George Christensen’s own documented habits of indulging in conspiracy and white nationalist content on Facebook, it’s not surprising that the politician wants ‘lawful’ misinformation to stay on the platform. The question is: does anyone else?