Facebook banning MPs is contempt of parliament: Craig Kelly

Member for Hughes Craig Kelly. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong
Member for Hughes Craig Kelly. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Speaker of the House of Representatives Tony Smith will soon rule whether to proceed with a request to hold Facebook in contempt of parliament for banning an MP from its platforms.

After receiving a request from Hughes MP Craig Kelly, Mr Smith must decide whether Facebook is in contempt for banning Mr Kelly's online profile on April 26 for repeatedly spreading of health misinformation during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Smith will rule on the matter when politicians return to Canberra in the last week of May.

Mr Kelly raised his concerns about Facebook's "improper interference" with a member of parliament's duties, citing the rights of an MP under the Australian Constitution.

"The simple fact is that I have been black banned and deplatformed from the Facebook platforms," Mr Kelly told parliament on Thursday.

"I am unable to communicate through their Messenger service, which means that constituents have actually sent messages to me that I don't know even exist today, and I'm unable to respond to them."

He said Facebook's platforms were a major tool for all members of parliament to communicate with constituents, and would receive between 20 and 50 messages per day via the platform.

Days after deleting Mr Kelly's primary Facebook page, the company also deleted his backup page and his Instagram account last month for breaching its misinformation policies over his posts about COVID-19.

"When we remove people for violating our policies, we don't allow them to circumvent this with additional accounts," a Facebook spokeswoman said in a statement.

"We have removed Craig Kelly's second Facebook page and Instagram account for violating our policies on this."

Craig Kelly with his son Trent at their Illawong home. Picture: Geoff Jones

Craig Kelly with his son Trent at their Illawong home. Picture: Geoff Jones

The NSW MP sits on the cross bench after quitting the Liberal Party to continue speaking out against public health advice.

He has shared misinformation throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

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Facebook can remove pages, groups and accounts if they are linked to ones previously removed over policy breaches.

Mr Kelly is looking for support from at least one other lower house MP to back a bill he wants to introduce, which would crackdown on foreign-owned social media companies and their censorship of political speech.

- with AAP

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This story Parliament to decide if Facebook banning MPs is contempt first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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