Facebook bans sitting MP over COVID theories


Liberal MP Craig Kelly has accused Facebook of "silencing" freedom of speech after he was suspended for promoting "alternative" COVID-19 treatments less than a month after Scott Morrison pulled him into line for not backing the vaccine rollout.

The Sutherland based Hughes MP claimed Facebook banned him over at least four of his posts that promoted drugs hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin as treatments for the disease contrary to official government advice.

Another post likened children wearing face masks to child abuse. The posts have since been removed.

The ban comes a month after Mr Kelly was reprimanded by Prime Minister Scott Morrison for spruiking theories about COVID-19 treatments and promoted his ideas on an anti-vax podcast with disgraced chef Pete Evans.

Mr Kelly said Facebook's ban on his page, which has more than 80,000 followers, was "a step too far" because the posts referred to evidence from medical experts.

"If I had been posting something wrong or dangerous, fair enough but they've gone through my Facebook in detail and found four posts out of 1,000 they've objected to," he said.

"Those four were posts where I've put links to stories from highly credentialed sources."

The posts included links to articles from The Spectaror and ABC Catalyst referring to the medical evidence in favour of the use of the drugs and were not "anti-vaxxer" in nature, he said.

"Nothing I've said has been contrary to the government's message on vaccinations … I am saying, and to quote Professor Robert Clancy, that these other early treatments should be used in concert with vaccinations."

In a post last week, Mr Kelly urged the government to consider using the drugs hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin as a cure against coronavirus, citing a Herald Sun article quoting medical experts.

"Some of the city's top general practitioners, urologists, psychiatrists and surgeons in the group known as the COVID-19 Medical Network said the drugs could cure coronavirus when taken in its early stages," the post read.

The nation's COVID-19 taskforce has recommended against the use of both of the drugs as treatments outside of clinical trials.

Just last week, Facebook announced it would crack down on people spreading misinformation about COVID-19 that could discourage the take-up of the vaccine.

A spokeswoman for Facebook said: "We don't allow anyone to share misinformation about COVID-19 that could lead to imminent physical harm. We have clear policies against this type of content and will remove it when we become aware of it."

Originally published as Liberal MP hit with Facebook ban over COVID theories