AEC targets disinformation with myth-busting campaign

By Melissa Coade

March 7, 2022

Tom Rogers
Australian Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

A new disinformation register has been launched by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) in a bid to debunk lies about federal election processes.

The register lists a range of ‘prominent pieces of disinformation’ the AEC has encountered, ranging from suggestions the commission knows the date of the election before it has been called by the prime minister to claims that unvaccinated Australians will not be eligible to cast a vote.

Australian Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers said the agency was not ‘messing around’ in its efforts to correct misleading and deceptive information about how elections were run.

“If you spread incorrect information about the processes we run – deliberately or otherwise – we will correct you,” Rogers said, noting that while the AEC was not an ‘arbiter of truth’ in political debate, its staff were the experts on election processes.

The register lists false claims about the election process (some that are ridiculous to others that are more sophisticated) identified by the AEC, including the platform it was published on, the timing, and a factual correction. 

According to the commissioner, a reputation-management strategy for the agency underpinned the decision to create the disinformation register.

“False information about the free, fair and secure election process that has operated in Australia for many years can do significant damage to public trust,” Rogers said. 

 “Scrutiny is important but it must be well informed. Australian elections are too important to let these things go through to the keeper, especially when people aren’t acting in good faith.

“The message here is simple: the AEC will not tolerate the spread of misinformation or disinformation about our electoral system, no matter the source,” he said.

The commission plays an active role on social media to combat the lies about electoral facts being disseminated online. A statement from the AEC said the organisation worked closely with Meta, Twitter, Google, Tencent, TikTok and Snap to discuss some of the disinformation being published on their platforms. 

“In the past fortnight alone, we have referred a small number of matters their way for consideration against their policies,” the statement said. 

Ahead of the next federal election, the commission plans to brief key media outlets about the need for open communication to ensure there is accurate reporting on election processes.

The commission will also publish its own content with short videos on its website, social media interactions, press releases to compliment a ‘stop and consider’ campaign for the 2022 federal election.

“If political communication brought to our attention does not feature the required authorisation message, we will seek to have that remedied so voters know who is communicating with them,” the AEC added. 


READ MORE:

The ever-changing foreign influence on social media

About the author
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
The Mandarin Premium

Canberra’s changed

Stay on top for only $5 a week

 

Get Premium Today