Despite his much publicised ban, Australia’s best known conspiracy theorist Pete Evans is back on Facebook to drum up support for his tilt at the Senate. And the tech giant said his new page doesn’t break its rules.
Launched on Monday night, the ‘Pete Evans – Senate – Great Australia Party’ Page already has almost 5,000 followers on Facebook.
It’s still nowhere near 1.5 million he had on his Chef Pete Evans Page before he was kicked off the platform for sharing COVID-19 misinformation. This occured shortly after he promised he was quitting anyway.
The Page is ostensibly for his run for Parliament, although Evan’s political candidacy remains just a promise at the moment since a federal election has yet to be called.
So far, the Page has only posted a sprinkling of campaign material for the Great Australia Party. It’s a far cry from the explicit medical misinformation and conspiracy content that Evans posted to Facebook before the ban, and continues to post to his Telegram channel now.
A link to the Page has been shared by party leader Rod Culleton and from the party’s main Facebook Page, but the former celebrity chef has yet to share it via his few remaining channels yet.
Representatives for Facebook declined to comment on the record about Evans’ return, but did give some information to Gizmodo on background.
Facebook has a recidivism policy that prohibits people from creating new Pages that are similar to ones that were removed for violating the platform’s rules. The company uses a variety of factors including which Facebook accounts run the Page and what kind of content they post to determine whether they’re similar enough to ban.
But after Gizmodo asked Facebook about Evans’ new Page, the company reviewed it and decided that ‘Pete Evans – Senate – Great Australia Party’ was different enough to the former ‘Chef Pete Evans’ Page to leave up.
Despite them being about the exact same person.
Honestly, this decision by Facebook is baffling. The company’s policy to stop the people circumventing bans for bad behaviour coming back is supposed to protect its users from dealing with people promoting the same bullshit.
And that’s what is likely to happen: the Great Australia Party, after all, has a lot of crank policies about vaccines, fluoride, even “encouraging a greater emphasis on early education e.g. looking at starting when the mother is 6 months pregnant“, whatever that means.
Importantly, the Page has just a fraction of the audience size as Evans’ former platform, which means there’s a limit on the spread of bullshit — for now.