Twitter partners with ABS to support ‘healthy’ census conversation

By Shannon Jenkins

Monday August 2, 2021

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has teamed up with Twitter ahead of the 2021 Census in a bid to drive participation and combat misinformation.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics has teamed up with Twitter ahead of the 2021 Census in a bid to drive participation and combat misinformation. (Aleksei/Adobe)

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has teamed up with Twitter ahead of the 2021 Census, in a bid to drive participation and combat misinformation.

This year’s census will take place on August 10. In the lead up to the national survey, Twitter has launched a number of features to ‘protect the Twitter conversation related to the #Census2021’, according to Kara Hinesley, Twitter’s head of public policy for Australia and New Zealand.

One new feature is a dedicated census search prompt. The prompt appears whenever someone searches for keywords associated with the census on Twitter, and directs them to the official census website, Hinesley noted.

“This is an expansion of our #KnowTheFacts prompt, which we specifically put in place for the public to find clear, credible information on critical issues,” she said.

The social media giant will also enforce its rules on false and misleading information.

“As is part of our company-wide efforts to fight misinformation regarding participation in civic events globally, our existing Civic Integrity policy applies to census-related content to make certain the census conversation on Twitter remains healthy,” Hinesley said.

Other measures that Twitter plans to implement include promoted content that will encourage Australians to fill out their census. The content will appear on individuals’ timelines and Explore tabs when they open Twitter on August 9 and 10.

Australians on Twitter will also be able to opt-in to receive push notifications via direct message from the ABS Twitter account when they ‘like’ an ABS Tweet. The notifications will include reminders aimed at informing users about census benefits and driving participation online.

Hinesley said Twitter was committed to serving the public conversation by ensuring the public can find information from authoritative sources.

“Our outreach and close partnership with ABS officials has driven our approach to keeping the conversation healthy,” she said.

“Through direct planning and training, we have worked to ensure credible, updated information is being surfaced for people looking for information on how to complete the census.”

The ABS has also launched a media campaign to raise awareness and participation in the 2021 census.

“It’s important that people can access a reliable and official source of information about the 2021 census. I encourage people to visit the census website for key information about doing the census and how we can help people to complete their census,” Census spokesperson and ABS executive director Andrew Henderson said.

“We want to make sure people have the information they need to participate, because the census provides a picture of the economic, social and cultural makeup of Australia. Data from the census informs important decisions about transport, schools, health care, infrastructure, and business. It also helps plan local services for individuals, families, and communities.”

The ABS began sending instructions on how to complete the census to more than 10 million Australian households last week.

While Census Night will officially take place on August 10, Australians can complete their census online, on paper, or with help from the ABS as soon as they receive their instructions.

This year’s census contains two new questions. They relate to long-term health conditions, such as arthritis and diabetes, and defence force participation. They are the first new questions to be added since 2006.

Read more: ABS advises against LGBTI census questions despite calls for data


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