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The Department of Home Affairs Australia made 4,213 requests to social media companies to censor COVID-related matters

By Murray Hunter - posted Tuesday, 30 May 2023

In Freedom of Information (FOI) request made my Senator Alex Antic. It was revealed that a body called the Online Content Incident Arrangements (OCIA) system was established in February 2020 by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), where the health ministry utilized the channel with social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to pull down Covid-19 material, which 'they' (being the ministry) believed it breached platform guidelines.

The health ministry used taxpayer funds to outsource this work to third parties, to scan social media for postings that fit the criteria.

The DHA has utilized 'terrorism' legislation to enable them to spy and censor internet material the minister through its outsourced agent deemed to breach the guidelines.


The above Youtube video shows Senator Antic questioning the DHA on the matter.

In the #TwitterFiles, Racket found 18 DHA emails, collectively requesting 222 tweets be taken down. Jokes and information that later turned out to be true were frequently included in the censorship requests, which came from something called the "Social Cohesion Division" of the DHA's "Extremism Insights and Communication" office.

Censorship included jokes, accounts with as few as 20 followers, where claims later turned out to be true.

Even a humorous commentary on masks was deemed too much. In one case, a mere reply to a tweet claiming "masks are useless" was considered to have contradicted "official information," making it "potentially harmful":

In addition, the DHA also targeted non-Australian citizen and foreign accounts. The Social Cohesion Division is still in operation today, and expanded its surveillance and censorship to other issues, including climate change, and 'The Voice".



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About the Author

Murray Hunter is an associate professor at the University Malaysia Perlis. He blogs at Murray Hunter.

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