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Facebook says Craig Kelly’s content on United Australia party page OK after banning MP

Craig

Facebook says Craig Kelly’s content on United Australia party page OK after banning MP

Facebook says the United Australia party’s page does not violate the social media giant’s community standards despite carrying prominent content from Craig Kelly, whose accounts have been banned for breaching the social media company’s misinformation policy.

Last month, Labor’s Tim Watts asked the social media behemoth to explain how advertisements fronted by Kelly – the former Liberal and now federal parliamentary leader of the UAP – could still be in wide circulation on the platform when his page is banned.

Kelly’s profile was suspended for a number of weeks earlier this year over posts promoting hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin and questioning the effectiveness of masks. Facebook then made the ban permanent in April.

Before he was removed from the platform, the outspoken MP had amassed more than 86,000 followers and was frequently one of the highest performers among politicians on Facebook.

Kelly quit the Liberal party in February in part because he wanted to keep posting about unproven treatments for Covid-19.

Facebook has now responded to Watts, the shadow assistant minister for cybersecurity. Mia Garlick, Facebook’s director of policy in Australia and New Zealand, told the Labor frontbencher the different approaches in enforcement reflected the fact the accounts had different purposes.

“As a matter of public record, under our harmful health misinformation policy, we have removed the Facebook and Instagram accounts representing Mr Craig Kelly MP for repeated violations of our community standards,” Garlick said in correspondence seen by Guardian Australia.

Garlick told Watts Facebook had also “removed additional accounts that appear to have been created with the purpose of evading this enforcement”.

But this did not extend to the UAP’s accounts because the page does “not currently” violate community standards on repeat offending “due to the difference in purpose of the banned accounts (to specifically represent Mr Kelly) and the purpose of this page (to cover the United Australia party more generally, including other candidates)”.

In his complaint to Facebook in September, Watts noted the UAP had launched a new campaign on both Facebook and Google, spending more than $500,000 on advertising in a month. Watts suggested the conduct amounted to “ban evasion”.

“It is difficult to understand how Facebook’s rules could allow for an individual to be banned from Facebook for repeatedly sharing misinformation about Covid-19, while also allowing that individual to return to the platform as the leader of a group with plans for a massive social media advertising spend,” Watts said at that time.

The Labor frontbencher told parliament on Monday of the 19 videos on the UAP page, “14 are of the member for Hughes – he voices them, he authorises them under Australian electoral law and he’s spent tens of thousands of dollars advertising them”.

Watts said it wasn’t good enough for Facebook to say the activity was acceptable because the UAP had a different purpose to Kelly’s now deleted account.

He said Facebook had said previously it would take down new pages in the voice of a previously banned individual.

“I’m sick of long statements from Facebook that say a lot but ultimately declare that they aren’t going to do anything,” he said.

Kelly said on Monday he was close to launching legal proceedings against Facebook for defamation and breach of contract. Kelly contends the platform defamed him when Facebook said he had been banned for spreading misinformation.

He said he was unaware about the removal of additional accounts referenced by Garlick in her response to Watts, although he said prior to the ban he had two Facebook accounts, and both had been removed.

Of Watts’ complaint to Facebook, Kelly said: “It is very disappointing that another member of the Australian parliament has attempted to declare me an un-person. Mr Watts’ conduct is an affront to free speech”.

He said Watts needed to “take a good hard look at himself”.

Watts said on Monday Kelly was entitled to “say whatever he likes here” – meaning in the parliament. But he said he should not be entitled “amplification by an algorithm that advantages the divisive and the outrageous”.

Garlick told Watts Facebook continued to “actively work to combat the sharing of Covid-related misinformation in Australia, and we are committed to take an aggressive approach in response”.

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Supreme Court Dismisses Suit Challenging Adeleke’s Candidacy

The Supreme Court has affirmed Ademola Adeleke as the authentic candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in the just concluded Osun State Governorship Election.

This has laid to rest the suit filed by Dotun Babayemi, a governorship aspirant of the party who sought the invalidation of Adeleke’s victory.

In a judgement delivered by Justice Amina Augie, the five-member panel held that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the suit after counsel for the appellant, Adebayo Adelodun, withdrew the earlier notice of appeal that was filed within time.

At the resumed hearing, Adelodun, who represented the appellant and Babayemi informed the court that he sought to withdraw the earlier notice of appeal to replace it with the fresh application he filed.

But the panel held that Section 285(11) of the constitution stipulated that an appeal on a pre-election matter must be filed within 14 days from the day of the decision, and that having filed the second appeal out of time, the apex court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the matter.

Justice Augie, therefore, dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

Babayemi had asked the court to invalidate the primary election that produced the governor-elect, citing non-compliance with a court order.

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400 Staff To Lose Jobs As BBC Goes Digital

The British Broadcasting Corporation BBC world service has on Thursday disclosed that about 400 of its staff will lose their jobs as part of a cost-cutting programme and move to digital platforms,

The BBC said its international services needed to make savings of £28.5 million ($31 million) as part of wider reductions of £500 million.

In July it detailed plans to merge BBC World News television and its domestic UK equivalent into a single channel to launch in April next year.

BBC World Service currently operates in 40 languages around the world with a weekly audience of some 364 million people.

But the corporation said audience habits were changing and more people were accessing news online, which along with a freeze on BBC funding and increased operating costs meant a move to “digital-first” made financial sense.

BBC World Service director Liliane Landor said there was a “compelling case” for expanding digital services, as audiences had more than doubled since 2018.

“The way audiences are accessing news and content is changing and the challenge of reaching and engaging people around the world with quality, trusted journalism is growing,” she added.

 

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Environment

Hurricane Ian: Cities flooded and power cut as storm crosses Florida

Hurricane Ian: Cities flooded and power cut as storm crosses Florida

Hurricane Ian made landfall at around 15:10 local time (19:10 GMT) on Wednesday, smashing into the coast with wind speeds of up to 241km/h (150mph).

Dramatic scenes saw a hospital roof blown off, cars submerged and trees ripped out of the ground.

The category four hurricane was later downgraded to a tropical storm.

However, Floridians were warned that the most dangerous 24 hours lay ahead and the mayor of Tampa urged people to shelter in place through the night into Thursday morning.

“We are going to get the majority of the rain and the higher winds starting about 20:00, and they are going to last throughout the night,” Jane Castor said during a Wednesday evening briefing.

In a message posted on Facebook, the Weather Prediction Center told residents in the Central Florida Peninsula to expect “widespread life-threatening, catastrophic flash and urban flooding” continuing into Friday morning, with potentially up to 76cm (30ins) of rain falling locally.

Residents were ordered to leave their homes, but many have decided to remain and seek shelter indoors.

Mark Pritchett, who lives in the city of Venice, some 95km (60 miles) south of Tampa, described the “terrifying” moment he stepped outside his home as the hurricane made its way across the Gulf of Mexico.

“Rain shooting like needles. My street is a river,” he said in a text message to the Associated Press news agency.

In Lee County – the south-west region where Ian made landfall – police were prevented from responding to reports of looting at a petrol station because of the storm damage.

As a result, a curfew has been declared “until further notice”.

Lee County Manager Roger Desjarlais said that the Fort Myers community had “been – to some extent – decimated”. According to news agency AFP, some neighbourhoods in the city of 80,000 had been left resembling lakes.

State Governor Ron DeSantis described Ian as the “biggest flood event” south-west Florida had ever seen, and announced that 7,000 National Guard troops are ready to lead rescue operations in flood zones.

President Joe Biden will receive a briefing on Thursday from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Ian is now continuing to move north through Florida. Jacksonville International Airport, based in north-east Florida, cancelled all flights scheduled for Thursday.

The storm is forecast to emerge into the Atlantic by Thursday morning.

It is expected to reach Georgia and South Carolina on Friday. Virginia has also joined Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida by declaring a state of emergency.

Cuba’s western coast was hit by Hurricane Ian on Tuesday. Power has now been restored in some areas after the island was plunged into a total blackout. Two people are understood to have been killed in Cuba and more than 20 Cuban migrants are believed to be missing at sea.

Predicted path of Hurricane Ian. Updated 27 September

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