Extraordinary intervention to prevent Covid truths
From Alex Antic
A Freedom of Information request from my office to the Department of Home Affairs has revealed that “4,213 COVID-19 related content referrals were made to digital platforms to review content against their own terms of service by the Department of Home Affairs for the period 1 January 2017 to 15 December 2022.”
Simply put, the department approached these digital platforms, namely social media companies, to restrict and censor COVID-19-related posts. The exact reasons for these decisions, and the details of the posts in question, are unclear, but this extraordinary intervention certainly raises questions.
For example, were any of these posts restricted (meaning their reach on social media was deliberately limited) or censored because they claimed that the COVID-19 vaccines did not prevent transmission of the virus? Were any interfered with because they questioned the morality and efficacy of lockdowns, or for pointing out that the case fatality rate of COVID-19 is extremely low? Did this include the posts of certain Australian politicians?
Points that were considered dangerous pieces of “mis”-and-“disinformation” over the past three years, such as lockdowns doing far more harm than good, are now almost universally acknowledged. Was the Department of Home Affairs censoring truthful statements? Were some pages and outlets targeted more than others? Were any medical professionals’ posts restricted and censored? Would these same posts have action taken upon them today given the information that has emerged over time? We don’t know, but this deserves further investigation.
The past three years in Australia have been a time of radical censorship and control of debate. There was an important dialogue that needed to be had from early 2020 about government control, medical ethics, the expanding power of bureaucracies, media hysteria, and more that was not permitted because opinions that contradicted the prevailing narrative were ridiculed and shut down.
We should have been having open debate about COVID-19 policy. That would have been the sensible and responsible approach. Instead, we got panic and censorship, and many of those who were being censored have been proven right.
Can the Department of Home Affairs assure Australians that politically incorrect (in other words, correct) statements about issues that our governments have wrongheaded stances on, such as climate change or transgenderism, aren’t being, or won’t be, restricted or censored? Will criticising the practice of giving teenagers hormone blockers be censored as “hate speech”? The reality is that restricting opinions that contradict the views of our woefully woke bureaucracies results in real-world harm.
Of course, there is discussion to be had about governments working with social media companies to police genuinely violent material, but how can we be sure that material which turns out to be true isn’t censored?
We must curb the politicisation and narrative enforcement of our government departments. It would be a great shame if our bureaucracies keep shutting down important debates.