By James Linn
The Coalition, in collaboration with minor parties, has been accused of intentionally spreading false information through social media.
The independent, anti-Labor Facebook page, ‘Rite-ON!’, accuses the Coalition of helping to spread misinformation about Labor’s policies heading into the 2019 election cycle.
It includes claims of an alleged 40 percent “Death Tax”, which would have seen Australian’s taxed on their inheritance owed from a dead relative, as well as an alleged “Car Tax” that would drastically increase the cost of new Australian vehicles.
Murdoch University Lecturer in Political Theory, Ian Cook, doesn’t understand the outrage.
“It gets very tricky in this context to define what misinformation actually is,” said Cook.
“Elections are all about presenting your policies in particular ways and presenting the opposition’s policies in particular ways, the fundamental idea is to represent them negatively.”
It’s claimed information was then spread via Facebook’s Ad program by Liberal Senator, Jane Hume and Queensland Liberal National Minister, George Christensen.
Christensen sponsored three Facebook posts centred on Labor’s alleged “death tax”, several were captioned: “We know Labor have secret plans to bring in a death tax”.
This caught the attention of The Guardian’s political astroturfing watchdog and sparked outrage from political integrity groups.
Murdoch University Strategic Communications Lecturer, Deborah Williams, said this is a disturbing trend among public and private organisations.
“I think it’s despicable,” said Williams. “It’s disturbing to me ethically, that organisations continue with this behaviour, the public doesn’t deserve to be intentionally deceived like this.”
Cook disagreed, arguing the public is much more perceptive than these integrity groups believe.
“That’s not the way Politics tends to work and the public are expecting things to be spun, most people don’t believe what Politicians say,” said Cook.
“To what extent is the reader of the information responsible for what they believe?”