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Barnaby Joyce has called for a major crackdown on social media giants after ‘completely and utterly fictitious’ allegations about his family spread online.
The deputy prime minister slammed posts suggesting former NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro’s retirement from politics was because he was in a relationship with one of Mr Joyce’s daughters.
‘It’s total and utter rubbish,’ Mr Joyce told ABC radio on Thursday.
Mr Joyce did not specify which of his four daughters was the subject of the false allegation but his eldest daughter Bridgette – who worked for Mr Barilaro as an advisor since earlier this year – has been targeted online.
Barnaby Joyce has slammed ‘totally fictitious’ allegations that his daughter had an affair with John Barilaro which forced him to resign. Pictured: Bridgette Joyce
He said it was essential more was done to force social media companies like Facebook and Twitter to stop people spreading lies.
‘From my own personal experience of recent times, you have got to get to a point where you say enough is enough,’ the federal Nationals leader said.
‘These platforms just say ‘oh well it’s too hard to control’.
‘It’s not too hard for you to collect your billions of dollars from it and apparently it’s not too hard for you set up vessels to avoid tax in Australia.’
Mr Joyce said he would speak to US politicians who are conducting a congressional inquiry that unearthed explosive allegations against Facebook.
Frances Haugen – a former Facebook data scientist – told a hearing the company was dishonest about efforts to counter misinformation and knew Instagram could have a toxic effect on young girls.
Mr Joyce said billions of dollars were being spent on mental health which could be seriously damaged through social media.
‘One of the greatest mechanisms of the destruction of people’s mental health is sitting on the kitchen table or in the corner of the room,’ he said.
Bridgette Joyce (second left) is pictured with mother Natalie and her three sisters
Nationals advisor Bridgette (third left) is pictured with her parents and sisters
Mr Barilaro is pictured with his wife Deanna and three children at home in southern NSW
‘If you go to any school and talk to any parent, this is one of the greatest fears – the destruction of their children by innuendo, by slurs.’
The deputy prime minister said it wasn’t just about his daughter’s experience but a broader problem across society.
‘The idea that someone can have this sort of pseudonym on Twitter and say the most outrageous things, and we in 2021 just sit back and say ‘that’s fair enough’ – that’s got to stop,’ Mr Joyce said.
Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg has described Ms Haugen’s testimony as false and insists the company cares deeply about safety.
Communications Minister Paul Fletcher on Wednesday said the ‘special treatment’ online companies had gotten away with was no longer acceptable to the community or government.
Mr Fletcher did not rule out laws to crack down on Facebook or other social media over misinformation.
Daily Mail Australia has contacted Mr Barilaro’s office for comment.
Mr Barilaro said it felt right to step down alongside Ms Berejiklian (pictured together) to give NSW a fresh start, allowing two new leaders to take the reins together as the state finally exits a grueling 15-week Covid lockdown
Source: Daily Mail