Huge blow for PM after China plea

 

As China continues to ratchet up the rhetoric against Australia, government officials in Canberra are joining the PM in criticising social media platform Twitter for allowing the "disgusting" doctored image to remain online.

Overnight, despite pleas from both the PM and Australian government officials, the image and post remained available. Despite some media reports the image was censored, that only appeared to affect some users and not others.

Government frontbencher Michael Sukkar was among those questioning why the social media giant allowed the doctored image of an Australian soldier to remain online, describing it as "disgusting" to the ABC.

The fake picture, posted on a Chinese government-linked Twitter account, depicts an Australian soldier holding a knife to the throat of a child.

China is refusing to apologise for the controversial image. It also said Australia needed to do some "soul searching" following the release of an explosive war crimes report.

The comments came after a bombshell report recommended 19 Australian soldiers be investigated for the alleged murder of 39 Afghans.

Despite a plea from Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who labelled the tweet "repugnant", Twitter has not removed the post, although the page is flagged as a "China government account".

Asked about the tweet at a regular press briefing overnight, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying replied: "With Australian soldiers committing such atrocious crimes, shouldn't the Australian government feel ashamed?"

She said Australia should "make a formal apology to the Afghan people", adding that "it is a fact that Australian soldiers brutally slaughtered innocent civilians in Afghanistan".

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The Prime Minister Scott Morrison during Question Time via a screen in Parliament House Canberra. Picture: Gary Ramage
The Prime Minister Scott Morrison during Question Time via a screen in Parliament House Canberra. Picture: Gary Ramage

When grilled on what the PM had demanded of Twitter on Monday, he said: "We are seeking its removal immediately and have also contacted Twitter to take it down immediately.

"It is a false image and a terrible slur on our great defence forces and the men and women who have served in that uniform for over 100 years.

"It is an absolute outrageous and disgusting slur and it wouldn't be the first time that social media have censored posts.

"In this case, I would think that in the interests of decency, they should take it down."

The post remained overnight.

On its website, Twitter claims "people are allowed to post content, including potentially inflammatory content, as long as they're not violating the Twitter Rules".

"It's important to know that Twitter does not screen content or remove potentially offensive content," it says.

"As a policy, we do not mediate content or intervene in disputes between users. However, targeted abuse or harassment may constitute a violation of the Twitter Rules and Terms of Service."

 

 

Under Twitter's Rules policy, it claims to "prohibit the glorification of violence" and that you "may not promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, caste, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease".

"You may not post media that is excessively gory or share violent," it continues.

In terms of "Authenticity", Twitter says: "You may not deceptively share synthetic or manipulated media that are likely to cause harm. In addition, we may label tweets containing synthetic and manipulated media to help people understand their authenticity and to provide additional context."

 

Tweet from Lijan Zhao flagged as the China Government Account
Tweet from Lijan Zhao flagged as the China Government Account

 

Beijing's foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian posted this falsified image of an Australian soldier slitting the throat of a child and said China condemned the murder of Afghan civilians
Beijing's foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian posted this falsified image of an Australian soldier slitting the throat of a child and said China condemned the murder of Afghan civilians

On Monday, Minister for Housing and Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar joined the chorus and said the image was outrageous and unacceptable and urged Twitter to do more.

"I'm completely offended," Mr Sukkar said.

"To see that doctored image, clearly an incendiary image that's been doctored in that way, is something that I am utterly offended about.

"We are a proud country. Sure, there are issues that Australia is owning up to … but we absolutely are appalled by this tweet.

"I'd like to see the image removed immediately given that it depicts our defence forces in a disgusting way, but in the end these will be matters for Twitter.

"Twitter has shown in recent times a certain willingness to censor, I suspect images and messages that are far less disgusting than the one we are am referring to here.

"So I'm surprised that they have chosen not to do that. I would just echo the Prime Minister's request and that is for Twitter to remove it immediately.

"Tweets are removed very regularly where it depicts content that is deemed to be unacceptable.

"I would have thought very clearly from 25 million Australians that a concocted image of a person in Australian uniform holding a bloody knife to the neck of what seems to be depicted as a small Afghani child is outrageous.

"If that's not something that should be removed, I'm not sure what is."

 

 

 

Earlier, in Beijing, Chinese officials delivered a stinging response to demands for an apology from the PM, accusing Australia of "barbarism" and saying the government should feel ashamed.

"Some Australian soldiers committed serious crimes in Afghanistan," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.

"The details are appalling and shocking including men and boys who were shot dead all with their throats slit while blindfolded.

"Some Australian soldiers committed serious crimes in Afghanistan," she said.

"The details are appalling and shocking including men and boys who were shot dead all with their throats slit while blindfolded.

 

Originally published as Huge blow for PM after China plea



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