MP Craig Kelly ‘absolutely outraged’ after Facebook removes his page for misinformation :

Facebook has removed federal independent MP Craig Kelly’s Facebook page for repeatedly breaching the social media company’s misinformation policy.

The member for Hughes, who quit the Liberal party in February in part because he wanted to keep posting about unproven treatments for Covid-19, had amassed a large following on the site of more than 86,000 followers at last count, and was frequently one of the highest performers among politicians on Facebook.

His profile was suspended for a number of weeks earlier this year due to posting Covid-19 misinformation. Facebook has now made the ban permanent.

“We don’t allow anyone, including elected officials, to share misinformation about Covid-19 that could lead to imminent physical harm or Covid-19 vaccines that have been debunked by public health experts,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. “We have clear policies against this type of content and have removed Mr Kelly’s Facebook Page for repeated violations of this policy.”

He was suspended in February over three posts related to unproven claims about hydroxychloroquine by professor Dolores Cahill; a profile of professor Thomas Borody in the Spectator which includes advocacy of ivermectin to treat coronavirus; and claims by pathologist Roger Hodkinson that masks are “useless” for children and “paper and fabric masks are simply virtue signalling”.

At the time of publishing, a backup page Kelly set up in March was still up and running, and still posting.

An Instagram account also remains active. While Facebook owns Instagram, it treats Instagram pages separate to Facebook pages. Celebrity chef turned Covid-19 conspiracy theorist Pete Evans’ Instagram account was banned in February, months after his Facebook page was removed in late December.

Kelly told Guardian Australia he was “absolutely outraged” by Facebook’s conduct, labelling it “censorship” and “interference in Australian democracy”.

“Firstly, they refused to tell me what they say is misinformation … I stand 100% by everything I’ve posted. It’s not my random thoughts, it’s backed up by scientific evidence,” he said.

Kelly conceded that many doctors and academics he cited “have alternatives to mainstream opinion” but said he wants to “live in a democracy where we can hear and debate those opinions”.

“Facebook have not just removed a few posts, they’ve deplatformed the whole page – it’s like setting fire to a book, not just removing the pages they disagree with.”

Kelly is working on a private member’s bill that would require social media platforms to provide written notice before deleting an account and could apply fines of up to $100,000 a day for deplatforming people for political speech, including politicians and candidates for office.

Kelly said a “foreign entity” had prevented him distributing material promoting the bill, “extinguishing” his opportunity to use Facebook to call for greater regulation of social media.

On his backup Facebook page, the MP linked to other social media pages, and said: “YESTERDAY OUR VETERANS WERE INSULTED, TODAY MY MAIN FACEBOOK PAGE IS BANNED. I’LL KEEP THE BASTARDS HONEST.”

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