FriendlyJordies is co-ordinating an effort to set up local Facebook community groups around the country, run by his fans, to covertly promote pro-Labor and anti-News Corp content in the lead-up to the next federal election.
During the Facebook news ban, a video of popular Australian creator Jordan Shanks (who works under the name FriendlyJordies) was posted to Common Sense Brigade, a Facebook group for Shanks’ fans with more than 30,000 members.
In the video, captioned ‘EMERGENCY BROADCAST! GENERAL JORDIES HAS SOME ORDERS!’, Shanks calls to set up Facebook groups for local communities that will be controlled by members of the Common Sense Brigade.
“We were originally going to make this plans for the top 10 seats that the Labor party could win at the next election, we were going to get alternate groups going — like Lithgow 2027 or whatever the post code — that’s pretty much like for localised current affairs,” Shanks said in the video.
Shanks said that setting up a network of small, localised groups will allow them to “control the narrative”.
“You then start posting all the way to the election, concerning your community,” he outlined in the video.
“Pretty much just turn it into — don’t call it news, but that’s what you’re doing — you’re becoming a little newspaper for your area.”
"hmmm our party is increasingly becoming alienated from community who has totally lost faith in politics, we should make a ton of fake Facebook groups in order to pretend we actually care about these rubes and so we can spam terrible memes at them during the election" pic.twitter.com/E6P23bSrfm
— Mark Clayton (@MarkClayton94) February 25, 2021
In later messages to the group, the FriendlyJordies Facebook account tells members to encourage real engagement, to try and recruit people from other community groups, and to make Shanks admin of all the groups.
“We will be releasing area/mp specific memes and strategies soon,” the account posted.
Later, the FriendlyJordies account publicly posted a list of more than 20 Facebook groups for locations around Australia, each with hundreds of members already.
“We’ve made some (boomer) community groups! Get your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles friends, just as many people as you can to join their local group,” the account wrote.
“Trust me it’s a good idea, especially if you want to counter the effects of the Murdoch press.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for the FriendlyJordies team told Gizmodo Australia that a lack of local news motivated them to make the groups.
“Murdoch shut down local newspapers so we thought we’d create fb (sic) community groups that people could post in and use to get their local news. As to why we’re not starting papers, we don’t have the resources and we believe decentralised community media is more democratic and probably better for the world anyway… I guess your decision to cover a non story like this further justifies our decision to make these groups,” the spokesperson said.
What is FriendlyJordies’ Facebook group, Common Sense Brigade?
In the six months since the Common Sense Brigade was started, the group has co-ordinated the spread of pro-Labor memes to win over voters.
Share these to as many local boomer fb groups you can! and on ALL LNP socials! pic.twitter.com/OUVNZMLylf
— ????friendlyjordies (@friendlyjordies) October 2, 2020
“We make boomer memes that are anti-LNP with the objective of getting Labor to majority government,” one group administrator wrote.
This content — suggested and created by either Shanks, moderators or group members — sometimes include misleading or outright false accusations.
In 2016, BuzzFeed News reported that FriendlyJordies had done paid work for the Australian Council of Trade Unions.
Shanks has interviewed Labor figures such as Kevin Rudd, Jodie McKay and Tanya Plibersek, and has been described as “tacitly endorsed by the Labor Party”.
His latest plans show a desire to transition from a content creator to political player with hopes of influencing how Australians get their information.