6 Oct 2023

Election 2023: Electoral Commission asks X social media platform to remove misleading posts

9:57 am on 6 October 2023
The logo of the microblogging service X (formerly twitter) of the company X Corp is shown on the display of a smartphone.

The Electoral Commission was successful in getting one of the posts removed. Photo: Thomas Trutschel / Photothek / dpa Picture-Alliance via AFP

An online post which gave false information about voting dates has been removed and a second one is in question.

Both posts appeared on social media platform X, formerly Twitter.

The Electoral Commission said it escalated the first one to X which removed it.

It said the second one contained false information about votes and had also been escalated but it had not received a reply from X yet.

"If we receive a complaint about someone breaching the Electoral Act on social media, in the first instance we take it up with the person responsible for the post," legal and policy manager Kristina Temel said in a statement.

"If we can't reach them, they don't respond or they don't take remedial action - and we believe the Act has been breached - we raise the matter with the social media platform, through the agreed escalation route. It is then up to the social media platform to make a decision," Temel said.

"The Electoral Commission doesn't have any 'take-down' powers, nor does it have a role regulating political speech."

This is the fourth such escalation in elections; in 2020, two posts were removed.

"One post was removed from Facebook that contained false information and was in breach of the election day rules. Also, in 2020 one matter was removed from Twitter ... involving a person claiming to have dual voted," Temel said.

The commission has so far not had to speak to X about posts which incite violence against its staff.

Reports in Australia claim that the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has struggled to get posts threatening violence and disinformation taken down ahead of its national referendum known as the voice.

"We take the safety of our staff seriously and if there were social posts inciting violence against our staff, we would report them to police," said Temel.

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