In a week where openly racist Australian senator Fraser Anning is facing the possibility of a two-week suspension from parliament, he and fellow far-right politicians like Pauline Hanson and Mark Latham have one thing to be happy about: Facebook.
Using analytics software Crowdtangle, which allows the monitoring of Facebook pages by multiple metrics, PEDESTRIAN.TV found Australia’s far-right social media presence has experienced unprecedented growth in 2019.
Compared with most of Australia’s other political Facebook pages, Fraser Anning, Pauline Hanson, and former One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts all feature in the top five performers for the year when it comes to total interactions on the platform. “Interactions” accounts for things like shares, comments, likes, and reactions.
Anning, who experienced international condemnation for comments he made about Muslim immigration following the March 15 Christchurch terror attacks, has seen his page grow by 116% since the start of the year, with millions of video views and over one million total interactions.
This week it is highly likely Anning will face a censure motion, as well as a push for a suspension by the Greens. Labor and the Greens are behind the joint motion to censure the independent senator after Anning made multiple comments about Muslim immigration in the wake of the Christchurch terror attack.
On Tuesday, New Zealand’s deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters called him a “jingoistic moron.”
In the weeks following the Christchurch attack, Anning’s page grew 23% and had almost the same number of interactions (400,999) as the four pages closest to him (Pauline Hanson, Malcolm Roberts, Bill Shorten, and Scott Morrison).
In that time, the Queensland senator has routinely posted on topics like the threat of immigration as well as urging followers to sign up for his newsletter because Facebook could “delete us soon.”
Since January 1, Anning has picked up 62,317 page likes, which brings him into the top 10 Australian political pages based on likes alone. First place in that race? Pauline Hanson, with 259,534.
Hanson’s “Please Explain” page features prominently throughout most rankings on Crowdtangle. In the last week, Hanson, Anning, and Malcolm Roberts are the only pages who have come close to 45,000 interactions. Bill Shorten’s page got just over 40,000. but from there the list trickles down to next-highest Scott Morrison on 15,600.
With the axing of Malcolm Turnbull, the Coalition also said goodbye to its largest personality on Facebook. Scott Morrison’s page currently sits in 3rd place at 145,000 likes, trailing the Labor Party’s Bill Shorten on 224, 216.
Throughout 2019, four of the top six pages with accumulated views for video are (or have been) One Nation senators. Pauline Hanson’s Please Explain has almost five million views, while Fraser Anning trails at 3.33 million. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has 2 million, followed closely by Opposition Leader Bill Shorten. Mark Latham and Malcolm Roberts have gathered 727,470 and 443,765 respectively.
PEDESTRIAN.TV understands Crowdtangle – which is owned by Facebook – informed political parties it would be kicking them off the platform a few months ago. “We are limiting access to our product to media companies, publishers, or content creators,” said a note.