Craig Kelly, a misinformation-spreader so notorious that he was banned from Facebook and Instagram, has been appointed to – let me check my notes – the parliament’s social media and online safety committee.
A great, reasonable choice sure to have no serious consequences, I’m sure!
Sir Garbage Rat was banned from Facebook in April 2021 for his posts about unproven COVID-19 treatments.
These included promoting the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine (try saying that three times quickly) and ivermectin, an anti-parasite drug used in humans and animals. Both of these drugs have been shown to be potentially dangerous when taken for COVID-19.
In fact, the level of misinformation around ivermectin in the US prompted the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to, very iconically in my opinion, Tweet: “You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it”.
You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y'all. Stop it. https://t.co/TWb75xYEY4— U.S. FDA (@US_FDA) August 21, 2021
Before he was banned from Facebook, Kelly had one of the highest rates of engagement of any Australian politician which is ~scary~. It’s also evidence of why parliamentary conversations around social media regulation are so important.
The new parliamentary inquiry, which was announced by Scott Morrison, consists of eight members: five from the government and three from the crossbench or opposition. That now includes Labor MPs Sharon Claydon and Tim Watts, and Kelly. He was originally a Liberal before becoming leader of the United Australia Party in August this year.
In further proof of why it’s a bit dodgy for Kelly to be on an inquiry into “online harms that may be faced by Australians on social media”, he was also subject to a legal letter from the Therapeutic Goods Administration earlier this year.
The letter targeted spam texts the UAP sent about COVID-19 vaccines, which linked to a website listing 448 deaths as a “reported outcome” post Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines. The site also used the TGA’s logo, and the Commonwealth coat of arms.
According to the TGA, the texts breached copyright laws because they distributed “incomplete extracts of adverse event reports relating to COVID-19 vaccines”. The TGA also said the texts could be “seriously misleading”.
For his part, Kelly called the TGA’s statement “defamatory” and “deceptive”.
Anyway, it really feels like a guy who was literally awarded the Bent Spoon Award for misinformation should not be sitting on an inquiry about online safety.
In fact, Kelly’s misinformation is one of the things that makes the internet actively unsafe.