When Albert Einstein published his new theories around 1905 he challenged the established ‘truth’ of Newton’s laws of physics. Einstein was attacked by the scientific establishment at the time who were wedded to, and career-dependent on, Newton’s laws. Many sought to stop him. However, Einstein’s theory ultimately became the new ‘truth’.
This is how humans advance. ‘Truth’ is a view or perspective that is universally held, until such time as it is challenged, found to be faulty and replaced by a new view that becomes the new ‘truth’.
The Australian government is proposing a law that will force digital platforms (Facebook, etc.) to be the determiners of what is ‘true’. The government has put out a ‘Fact Sheet’ about this planned law and they are asking for your input.
We think it’s important that the government receive many responses and we encourage you to do so.
The planned law is very broad in its reach covering “Misinformation and Disinformation” that will “cause serious harm”
- It defines misinformation as “content that is false, misleading or deceptive” but doesn’t define what those things are, leaving that open to interpretation.
- It doesn’t define what is ‘harm’, leaving that open to interpretation.
- The ‘Fact Sheet’ talks of “harm” that “…affects a significant portion of the Australian population, economy or environment, or undermines the integrity of an Australian democratic process.”
- The law will cover almost anything that anyone says or thinks and that what is ‘true’ is to be determined by ‘truth authorities’ that supply ‘truth’ determinations to Facebook and other digital platforms.
- The law will not be constrained to criminal or potential criminal incitement, or to issues of defamation and so on. The law will cover anything.
In ‘truth’, this law is an attempt by government (through third parties) to control what they, the prevailing establishment/s in society, decide/s is ‘true’. It will enable misinformation or disinformation that an establishment wants propagated as their ‘truth’ to be the only authorised ‘truth’.
Take this example from the opinion/‘truth’ website Wikipedia on the flat earth theory:
- It is a historical myth that medieval Europeans generally thought the Earth was flat. This myth was created in the 17th century by Protestants to argue against Catholic.
That is, one religious group used the ‘flat earth’ allegation to take issue with a competing religious group. This is what humans have always done. ‘Truth’ and ‘facts’ are manipulated for purposes of power and oppression. The only way to limit this is to allow the broadest of human expression and challenge to existing ‘truths’.
The beauty of Wikipedia is that almost anyone can put up an opinion on their ‘truth’. Wikipedia allows competing opinions on ‘truth’ to flourish. But this law will surely suppress this feature of Wikipedia.
Self-Employed Australia has had experience with such ‘truth’ suppression. A member put up on their Facebook page a post we made commenting on the outcome of our Supreme Court action over hotel quarantine. Facebook had its ‘truth police’ sanction the member. Did Facebook’s ‘truth police’ contact us to seek our perspective? No! The ‘truth police’ instead ran with a spin the Victorian government would have wanted.
This is what this ‘truth’ law will enforce—government/establishment-sanctioned ‘truth’, with civil and criminal penalties for breaches.
In addition to responding to the ‘Fact Sheet’ above we encourage you to express your ‘truth’ to your local federal MP and State Senators.
The most effective emails are those that are respectful, to the point and personal. A follow-up phone call to the member’s office adds extra weight.
You can find your local member’s contact details through this parliamentary website. The search functions are good.