The recent proposal for legislation to require social media companies to crack down on misinformation and disinformation has some positives but it’s also something that needs careful consideration.
For a start there’s a big difference between misinformation where a person is just repeating incorrect information because they believe it to be true and disinformation where someone is deliberately spreading lies in order to weaken the case of an opponent. However, the big problem is deciding at what point an unpopular point of view becomes misinformation. Take Nick Coatsworth’s comments about Covid-19 not being airborne in the early days of the pandemic. Given he was one of the “experts” leading our response, would contradicting that have been misinformation?
And take this exchange on Twitter:
Apart from the fact that the writer of the tweet liked my retweet with the comment “Own goal?”, there’s a strong argument that asserting that Dutton was right about the “serious damages claims” following the Apology to the Stolen Generation could be considered misinformation. But Andrew Bolt would argue that there was no Stolen Generation, so the tweet could also be considered misinformation on the grounds that it talks about something that Bolt denies even exists so…
But I do find it interesting that supporters of the No campaign are the ones who seem to be most upset about any potential legislation to ban misinformation. It’s almost like saying without misinformation, we got nothing…
Perhaps I’ve got it wrong but there’s a very clear racist element to what some people are saying about the Voice. Let’s leave aside the areas of dispute which I’ll categorise as follows:
- The structure of the Voice will be determined by the Parliament and if it were to be problematic in any way, Parliament could restructure it. The Constitution will only be require that there be some form of Indigenous Voice to Parliament. This is disputed by the anti-Voice campaigners who argue that the lack of detail may mean that the Voice will be given wide-ranging powers by those leftie judges on the High Court.
- The Voice has no real power and will simply advise Parliament meaning that like all sorts of advice to Parliament from experts to Royal Commissions to bodies set up specifically to take the politics out of decisions, the advice could be ignored. This is disputed by some who argue that the Voice will have the power to insist that we change the date of Australia Day, move out of our houses if an Indigenous person wants it, stop the Reserve Bank from raising interest rates and force us all to become vegans.
- The Voice referendum came about after years of consultation culminated in the Uluru Statement from the Heart called for it. This is disputed by some who argue that Anthony Albanese just thought of it because he wants some sort of vanity project and it’ll be a Canberra voice and it’s all the Labor Party’s idea because they want someone else to have the power to make all the decisions.
- It’ll be a Canberra voice and we shouldn’t listen to Canberra voices unless they’re members of the Liberal Party.
So leaving aside the areas of dispute, it does seem strange when Sussan Ley gets up in Parliament and asks if the Voice will be able to advise the Reserve Bank… I mean, leaving aside the whole idea that the Reserve Bank is independent and doesn’t even have to listen to the government and the Voice is a voice to Parliament and the Executive and it doesn’t mention the Reserve Bank anywhere in the Referendum so you might as well ask, “Will the Voice be able to give advice on what shows I should watch on Netflix?” or “Will the Voice be able to give me advice on whether I should add any extra letters to my name in the hope that it gives me extra ssuccesss?”
But apart from Sussssann’ss absurdity, there does seem an underlying element of the Voice being just a bit too uppity. You know, stepping outside their area. You know, giving advice to more than just, well, things that should concern them… You know… like well, I’m not racist but we know that some of those people, you know… And, you know, if they were to express an opinion, you know… I mean, as if they’d know, you know… As if it’d be worth listening too…
Well, I’m not racist but…
And as for Peter Dutton, well, he’s a swell guy who just wants what’s best for everybody and the idea that foreigners could come here on boats and disrupt the whole way of life for those living here is something that only convicts from a couple of centuries ago should be able to do. As for African gangs, that wasn’t racist because we all know that African gangs are scarier than Caucasian gangs… Don’t believe that leftie stuff about Dutton! He’s a swell guy with a great sense of humour… Don’t you remember his great joke about Pacific Island people having no sense of time with water lapping at their door? Not racist at all.
In terms of the whole the interesting question is whether trying to portray Dutton as a great humanitarian could be considered misinformation.
While the opinion polls are telling us that support for the Voice is slipping, one has to take the polls with a grain of salt. After all, I remember that the opinion polls were telling us that the Victorian election would be close and that Andrews may lose his seat.
Of course, I am overlooking the possibility that it was those Dominion voting machines that were rigged and that the polls were right. Ok, the Victorian Electoral Commission says that it doesn’t use voting machines but how do we know that isn’t disinformation?
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