“30 minutes of truth bombs” is how one Twitter user described Liberal Democrat John Ruddick’s maiden speech to the New South Wales (NSW) Parliament, last Wednesday 28 June.
Indeed, Ruddick, who left the Liberal Party in 2021 after public disagreements over the Party’s handling of the pandemic response, said out loud in parliament what many Australians have been saying for some time now – at first privately, around dinner tables, but increasingly more publicly, over workplace water coolers or at the pub, as saying the obvious becomes more socially acceptable.
Nevertheless, what is socially acceptable offline is not necessarily acceptable on social media. YouTube swiftly removed Ruddick’s speech from its platform, just seven hours after it was uploaded. The NSW Liberal Democrats say this is the first time in Australian history that a politician’s maiden speech has been censored by the platform.
The interference of the social media giant in Australia’s political discourse is ironic given this line from Ruddick’s speech: “We libertarians are plotting to take over the world … so we can leave you all alone.”
A spokesperson for the Lib Dems says, “We initially posted the video on party founder Dr John Humphreys’ YouTube account. We then circulated that link on other social media – for example, this tweet from Dr John, which you can see now links to a takedown notice.”
YouTube claims that the video violated its “medical misinformation policy,” and implied that removing the video was necessary to ensure that YouTube remains a “safe place for all.”