Targeting Truth

Labor claim to be targeting 'misinformation and disinformation' but the real target appears to be those media outlets bucking the official narrative.

Targeting Truth
Photo by Claudio Schwarz / Unsplash

After eight months in office, the Albanese Labor government are busy implementing their agenda.

Of course that is what we elect governments to do, but we also expect them to be upfront with that agenda.

And let's remember that just 32.6% - the lowest since 1934 when Jack Lang ran Labor splinter group candidates against them. If you discount that vote splitting exercise, last year was Labor's worst performance since 1903.

Still, they won government and now have a responsibility to the entire nation.

But there are some troubling signs that Labor are chasing an agenda that they didn't actually take to the Australian people.

Last Friday, they announced new ACMA powers to 'combat harmful online misinformation and disinformation'.

According to the government press release:

"Digital platforms will continue to be responsible for the content they host and promote to users. In balancing freedom of expression with the need to address online harm, the code and standard-making powers will not apply to professional news and authorised electoral content, nor will the ACMA have a role in determining what is considered truthful."

That reads like a bunch of misinformation to me and here's why.

Firstly, the major social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter and the like) are not responsible for the content they host and promote. In fact it is quite the opposite, these platforms are not accountable for what is posted on their sites.

They have no legal responsibility even though social media companies have been shown to collude with government to censor, suppress and cancel content they don't want you to know.

The COVID pandemic exposed just how extensive this big tech and big government collaboration is.

The truth was often hidden away in favour of the official government narrative with the support of official 'fact-checkers' who were really opinion editors.

It's also noteworthy that the new standards will not apply to 'professional news and authorised electoral content'.

Quite what professional news is these days is a matter of some debate. However if it's outfits that operate thanks to the approval of government then we have a problem.

In recent years, it seems the citizen journalist or non-mainstream media has been responsible for breaking more truths than a lot of other more-established publications.

The authorised electoral content is also an interesting exemption. I mean it's not like Labor have a history of making outrageous and demonstrably false claims during an election campaign to.

The Mediscare campaign is just one that springs to mind.

And then there's the small matter of ACMA having no role in declaring what is considered truthful. Well if it's not ACMA then who will be the arbiter of truth?

The government? The ABC fact-checkers or maybe just some subfaction of the political left?

Goodness knows all these outfits have been found wanting in their 'truth declarations' before.

The fact that this announcement was slipped out late on a Friday afternoon during the holiday season tells us all we need to know about how sensitive this is.

It conjures up the reawakening of Labor's previous 'hate media' proposal which was clearly targeted at media outlets that reported unfavourably on the Rudd/Gillard governments.

We need a free media in this country, not one that is constantly under threat of sanction by government.

That includes individual reporters and emerging companies that have a tiny fraction of the resources of the major players, but whom have done a mighty job of countering government censorship.

Now it appears they are the targets for non-compliance .

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