Fiona Patten quits social media amid backlash

The MP making her announcement on social media.

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MP Fiona Patten, leader of the Reason party, has decided to take a break from social media after experiencing intense criticism from users.

The announcement was, ironically, made via her Twitter account with the comment section locked.

“The term ‘social media’ is misleading. Perhaps a better description is ‘open media’,” said Patten.

In recent months, Patten has reblogged content disparaging of Freedom Protesters and put up several Tweets critical of religion, both in schools and the private religion of other MPs.

She has also faced backlash over her defence of the emergency legislation being used to extend the reach of medical mandates.

These attracted a normal amount of social media criticism from the wider community.

Many of those that replied to Patten’s Tweets were upset by their content.

“All who post – and those who incite and host them – are subject to defamation and other laws against malice and harm. With the right to freedom of expression come legal and moral responsibilities,” insisted Patten, in relation to online comments.

“Open Media can be a wonderful crucible of creativity and civilisation, of genuine progress. But it can also be a cesspit of bastardry, where people for some reason write things they would never say to someone’s face.”

Replying to posts made by MPs is the closest most people will ever get to personal conversation with their elected representative.

Social Media is a relatively new tool in politics. Polls and rallies were previously the primary way elected officials heard the opinion of those they serve. With the rise of Twitter and Facebook, politicians often come face-to-face with the raw sentiment of the community.

Un-edited criticism can be confronting, resulting in many political and celebrity figures ‘taking a break’ from platforms in recent months.

The Reason Party states on their website that it wants ‘a focus on open and honest dialogue with the public; we listen’.

Perhaps not this open?

Full Media Statement by Fiona Patten MP

I and my office are taking a break from social media. It might be for a few weeks. It might be for longer. It might be permanent. We will be evaluating how best to communicate with the broader community.

I am calling this pause because of the appalling abuse, most of it from anonymous cowards, polluting what could and should be one of humanity’s triumphs, the ability for the majority of people to follow and participate in the most important market there is – the free market for ideas.

The term `social media’ is misleading. Perhaps a better description is ‘open media’.

All who post – and those who incite and host them - are subject to defamation and other laws against malice and harm. With the right to freedom of expression come legal and moral responsibilities.

Open Media can be a wonderful crucible of creativity and civilisation, of genuine progress.

But it can also be a cesspit of bastardry, where people for some reason write things they would never say to someone’s face.

It can be a waste of time, with staff removing obscenities, harassment, and bullying, in the interests of decency, promoting proper debate and protecting people from having to read vile inanities.

One such example is the recent conviction in Queensland of a man called John James Wilson who threatened on Facebook to shave my head and drag me 'up the street naked' if I supported proposed COVID-19 laws. The charge was using a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence.

You’ll be hearing from us, in courteous and respectful ways as we continue to advocate for the public interest and personal liberty.

— ENDS —

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  • By Avi Yemini

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