Safe Schools critics accuse Facebook of censorship

The Australian,  May 17, 2016.

A vocal critic of the controversial Safe Schools Coalition has ­accused Facebook of censoring its conservative viewpoint after a newspaper article that it shared at the weekend mysteriously ­disappeared.

The article, published in The Weekend Australian, had highlighted cases of the gender and sexual diversity program being taught in primary schools, despite it being intended for secondary schools only.

Christian lobby group Family Voice Australia uploaded the article, titled “Kids of 7 learn ‘gender diversity’ from Safe Schools ­Coalition”, at 11am on Saturday and by mid afternoon it had generated hundreds of “likes”, shares and comments.

When a site administrator checked the page again at about 7pm, the article was gone, leaving in its place a message advising the account had been “sending out spam”.

Family Voice also claimed this was not the first time its posts had been deleted, with several articles it shared last year about its traditional view of marriage also disappearing.

Last month, John Dickson, who runs the Centre for Public Christianity, revealed that an opinion piece he had penned and uploaded to Facebook was removed for failing to adhere to “community standards”. The article had called for a more respectful debate on same-sex marriage.

Family Voice spokeswoman Ros Phillips yesterday told The Australian that the group was “very concerned” about the increasing censorship of conservative views on social issues.

“Australians are being denied their right to know important ­information that could affect their views on current debates,” Ms Phillips said.

“Whatever happened to democracy and free speech?”

Family Voice was able to re-post the article at 8pm on Saturday, but only after verifying that it was not responsible for spam.

A Facebook spokesman said it was difficult to comment without a link to the deleted post.

Ms Phillips said the federal parliament should be demanding ­answers from Facebook, just as the US Senate was following recent accusations that the social networking giant was excluding conservative news stories from its trending topics section. The company has launched a “full investigation” into a claim made by a former news curator that employees were instructed to omit stories about right-wing topics.

Australia’s Safe Schools program has become a divisive issue, particularly in Victoria, where the government has defied a federal edict for certain resources and materials to be watered down.

Premier Daniel Andrews reignited the debate at the weekend, revealing that his government would launch its own website providing full access to Safe Schools resources.


The Categories: Safe Schools Coalition