B&T warns readers that this article contains offensive terms. Meta, parent company of Instagram and Facebook, has refused to take action against users who post material that is racist and abusive to Indigenous Australians.
The First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria complained to Meta about the abuse in March following an increase in the number of offending posts. The Assembly, which serves as the democratically elected body of First Nations people in Victoria met representatives of Meta to discuss the matter but no action was taken as the posts were not deemed to have breached Facebook’s community standards.
Posts featuring slurs such as “feral abos,” “black k**ts” and “spear chuckers” were not removed. Another post that featured a photo of an Aboriginal man and the caption “my land, liquorland” was also not removed.
A Meta spokesperson told The Sydney Morning Herald that the company was mindful of the impact of the Voice debate on Indigenous communities and referred to the support measures the company had rolled out to support them. These include a mental health campaign in partnership with e-mental health support service ReachOut that focused on the social and emotional wellbeing of young and First Nations people.
The litany of racist posts will be unlikely to engender a brand-safe environment for advertisers — especially considering that a number of major brands, such as Qantas, have tied their colours to the “Yes” vote’s mast.
However, Meta is not alone in seeing a rise in hateful and offensive content in the run-up to the Voice to Parliament referendum. Professional network LinkedIn even saw a post from No campaign leader Nyunggai Warren Mundine that said “Australians being threatened and coerced into voting for the Voice to Parliament by governments and corporations” and a man having a gun pointed at his face being told to “Vote yes or else” and a Communist hammer and sickle flag and an Indigenous flag on the shooter’s sleeve.
A LinkedIn spokesperson would not answer questions about the post but said that the company removed content that violated its policies.
“Our policies outline that any false or misleading content is not allowed on LinkedIn, and we use technology, teams of reviewers and third-party fact-checkers to ensure content is in line with these policies,” they said in a statement.
“Also, hate speech does not belong on LinkedIn. We’re committed to setting a high standard for respectful conversations on our platform.”
Conversations around the Voice to Parliament have become increasingly fraught in recent months. Nine, for example, was forced to apologise last month for an offensive advert that went to print in the Australian Financial Review.
However, none of this is particularly new. In May, former ABC journalist Stan Grant told the audience at Cannes in Cairns that “It is often through mainstream media that we fan the hatred and the vitriol that we see on social media.”
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