A Facebook group is facing allegations of political catfishing as it was named after a series of political views and trending movements including being for, then against, lockdowns.
Freedom Rally Australia is a Facebook group currently posting information and sharing content promoting the anti-lockdown rallies across the country. As in, the very same rallies where people allegedly threatened to hang Victorian Premier Dan Andrews (extreme yikes).
The group was first created in 2013. However, if you look at their About page, it appears they weren’t always against lockdowns.
Back in March 2020, the group appeared to be in support of lockdowns when they ran under the name “STAYTHEFUCKHOMEAUSTRALIA”. Before that, they changed their name to “Crisis Help Info Australia Wide”.
In April 2020, they went by “Made and Owned in Australia Support Group”. By August this year, they were “Western Australian Preppers” – just some casual Doomsday speak thrown in. Then on the 21st of October, they named themselves after the Cleo Smith case – “Bring Cleo Home” – before changing it to “Freedom Rally Australia”.
If you don’t believe me, take a look at this screenshot of their Facebook Group History, which is visible for anyone including people who aren’t in the group. The screenshot was first alerted to us by 7News Perth reporter Ben Downie on Twitter who described the group’s history as “nakedly opportunistic”.
In the about section of the Facebook group, a spokesperson for the now named “Freedom Rally Australia” defended their decision to previously name themselves after the Cleo Smith case, and encouraged previous members who didn’t agree with the new topics associated with the group to leave.
“Why the name change? This group had multiple names in the past before it was changed to ‘Bring Cleo Home’. When she went missing, [the] admin felt it could assist the family with an existing group as a platform with WA members so the name was changed temporarily.
“After that change, a member advised [the] admin [that] there was already an existing group for her. That group link was shared and pinned as an announcement and this one was paused.”
Then they changed their name to support the anti-lockdown and anti-vaccine rallies seen across the country.
Interestingly, their about page does not address the fact that they were previously operating under the name “STAYTHEFUCKHOMEAUSTRALIA” – the name of which aggressively suggests to me they were once pro-lockdown.
Seeing this raises a few questions. Who is behind this group? What are their actual views and are they merely taking advantage of the dominant attitude at the time per every name change? If you ask me, the sheer fact they went from being apparently pro-lockdown in March 2020 to anti-lockdown a good 16 months later, and also jumped on several social issues and trending news topics implies to me that they have could have been politically catfishing for clout or some ~other reason~.
PEDESTRIAN.TV has reached out to Facebook and the group’s admin for comment but they did not reply at the time of publishing.