Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd‘s record-breaking petition calling for a royal commission into Australian media ownership will reportedly cop a formal review, after fine citizens like ‘Nacho Cheese’ and ‘Bette Midler known for Wind Beneath My Wings’ were found to be signatories.
The Australian reports the petition will face extra scrutiny after an Australian right-wing blogger revealed he paid two overseas cybersecurity experts $58 a pop to bombard the thing with fake signatures.
One of them reportedly pocketed the money and ran, but the other told The Australian they did generate 1,000 fake emails to sign the petition.
In addition to those fake signatories, The Australian reports the thing contains a number of bogus names (it’d be awfully embarrassing if Mrs Cheese spoke up to correct the record, but that’s neither here nor there).
All of this has reportedly resulted in Nationals MP Ken O’Dowd declaring the House of Representatives’ petition committee will have a peek under the hood, in an apparent attempt to suss how many of the 500,000 signatures are fake.
For those playing along at home, 1,000 fake emails, plus the other names mentioned by The Australian, equates to roughly 0.2% of all signatures.
I’m no statistician, but I’d suspect the vast majority of those remaining signatures are entirely legit.
Rudd appears to believe the same. Taking to Twitter after The Australian’s article was published, Rudd declared it a “Murdoch smear of our petition”.
Murdoch today quotes a far-right internet activist admitting to paying for a foreign cyber-attack on the Australian Parliament petitions website to discredit the petition (involving 1000 of the 501,876 signatures). #MurdochRoyalCommission /2
— Office of Kevin Rudd, 26th PM of Australia (@MrKRudd) November 18, 2020
Putting that development aside, the petition has already had a sizeable impact for both sides of the issue.
For Rudd and others who believe the Australian media is too concentrated and encourages “polarising and politically manipulated news”, the petition prompted a Greens-led Senate Inquiry into media ownership. Not quite a royal commission, but not nothing, either.
Those who oppose the petition – primarily media figures linked to News Corporation, Rudd’s primary target – have baselessly claimed the petition was just a data-scraping exercise.
(PEDESTRIAN.TV is owned by Nine Entertainment, whose takeover of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age newspapers is also referenced in Rudd’s petition.)
If you are indeed a genuine signatory to the petition, and your name is Nacho Cheese, Bette Midler known for Wind Beneath My Wings, Jesus Christ, Humpadink Pimpanipple, or any other of the purportedly fake names listed in today’s report, feel free to drop us a line. We’d love to get your take on this one.