Facebook blocks WA Liberals leader Kirkup | Ralph-Lauren

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As if Zak Kirkup wasn’t already having a hard enough time in the West Australian election campaign, now the Liberal leader has been blocked on Facebook.

While Premier Mark McGowan remains free to post to his 359,000 followers ahead of the March 13 election, Mr Kirkup has been caught up in the platform’s Australian news ban.

The social media giant has restricted Australian users and publishers from viewing or sharing domestic or international news.

Mr Kirkup, a first-term MP and frequent social media user, on Thursday joked that it might be time to reactivate his MySpace account.

The 33-year-old could be forgiven for wondering when he’ll catch a break given the already enormous advantage being enjoyed by his opponent.

Mr McGowan’s approval rating has soared to record highs on the back of his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With just over three weeks until polling day, the Liberals have effectively conceded they stand little chance of winning the election and instead urged voters not to let Labor take “total control” of both houses of parliament.

It is a drastic step but one that makes sense considering the Liberals lost 18 seats at the 2017 election and are battling to save the remaining furniture.

A recent poll commissioned by the WA Conservation Council found Labor leading 61-39 per cent on a two-party preferred basis.

Such a result on polling day would bring a 5.5 per cent swing to Labor.

Facebook’s move to restrict news sharing comes in response to the federal government’s proposed media bargaining code.

“While I accept that my page was taken down because of a poorly written algorithm, it speaks volumes how influential these social media giants have become in determining the course of our democracy,” Mr Kirkup posted on Twitter.

“This only reinforces why @ScottMorrisonMP was right to intro this mandatory code.”

State and territory health authorities, emergency services and the Bureau of Meteorology have also found themselves blocked.

Facebook issued a statement on Thursday saying it would restore the pages and hadn’t intended for its ban to impact them.

WA’s Department of Fire and Emergency Services, which provides crucial emergency and weather alerts, is among the affected pages.

Mr McGowan labelled the move “completely unacceptable”.

“I urge Facebook and the federal government to resolve this situation as quickly as possible,” the premier posted on his Facebook page.

“What Facebook has done is irresponsible and could have damaging consequences. A solution is needed immediately.”



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