If you’re a Twitter Auspol native, you’ve probably seen the Australian Electoral Commission pop up from time to time. If not, you might be interested to know that the AEC is fighting the trolls.
Earlier this week, we reported on how the AEC is planning to combat disinformation around the electoral system. It’s a pretty important thing to do, especially with a federal election coming up (we’ll be covering the tech side of it, so stay tuned for that).
Part of the AEC’s plan to combat disinformation is by running a fact-checking register, which behaves a bit like an FAQ page for electoral process facts.
Well, over the past few weeks, the AEC has been going hard on Twitter, directly replying to claims surrounding the Australian electoral process. It’s not putting up with any election disinformation.
We understand people feel passionate about the electoral process. Great.— AEC ✏️ (@AusElectoralCom) March 9, 2022
However, unfounded claims of bias of the AEC or Commissioner are wrong, dangerous & little different to what’s been seen overseas. Let's be better.
To think this site is free.— Sarah Joseph (@profsarahj) March 8, 2022
My favourite is the “are not” pic.twitter.com/ysb7v857q1
The only IPA we've been usurped by recently was a cheeky India Pale Ale.— AEC ✏️ (@AusElectoralCom) March 9, 2022
More seriously, of course this is incorrect. As we've seen in overseas elections, false claims like these can damage electoral integrity. Let's be better than that. Happy to discuss any questions you have.
It’s kind of odd, right? Seeing a pillar of Australian democracy (the commission that runs our federal elections) becoming a fact-checking replier to innocuous, blatantly false posts on Twitter. The account can be seen replying to posts pretty often throughout the day.
In case you don’t know much about the AEC, it’s the body that runs the Australian federal election, structurally separate from other government agencies and is politically neutral. Of course, it needs to be politically neutral to uphold its focus on impartiality, otherwise, accusations of bias might hold some water (as far as we know, they don’t hold any water).
The value in this work is there: by directly replying to these claims, the AEC is able to take on misinformation and disinformation in real-time, challenging those who spread and perpetuate false claims in clear public view. Highlights recently have been about the AEC being biased or corrupt, which, of course, don’t make a whole lot of sense.
If the Trump era was any indicator, it’s that social media is an absolute breeding ground for fake claims. The AEC operates on other social media platforms of course, but most of its responses to dodgy claims can be seen on Twitter.
Buuut also, the AEC seems to love a good shitpost.
We’ll look at s4A immediately. Lasagne laws must be upheld at all costs – for the sake of a good dinner— AEC ✏️ (@AusElectoralCom) March 9, 2022
If you haven't smashed an iced coffee and a pie floater in Rundle Mall, have you really lived?— AEC ✏️ (@AusElectoralCom) March 9, 2022
Wheels aren't covered in the Electoral Act. Doors (as the entrance to polling places) are.— AEC ✏️ (@AusElectoralCom) March 9, 2022
Speaking to The Guardian last month, the digital engagement director of the AEC, Evan Ekin-Smyth, said that a more personable approach was necessary. It’s in direct response to the false claims surrounding the U.S. election in 2020.
“We progressively became a little bit more active and forthright. But it’s certainly jumped up a notch in this electoral cycle,” Ekin-Smyth told The Guardian.
A few people have noticed we're quite active online. We're here to answer your questions and provide facts about the process we run. Not sure about something? We can help. pic.twitter.com/Zgaf7QhpVB— AEC ✏️ (@AusElectoralCom) October 6, 2021
It must get tiresome, having to constantly fact check people on Twitter and completely blow up ridiculous facts. But hey, democracy dies in darkness.
Please refrain from posting blatant misinformation on Twitter. The AEC is already busy enough trying to get our federal election in order.