Sydney Council closes comments after users debunk exaggerated crowd claims

Council cops backlash after claiming 5,000 residents turned out to push 'Yes' message in Voice to Parliament rally.

Sydney Council closes comments after users debunk exaggerated crowd claims
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Sydney City Council shut down public comments on their Twitter feed after social media users accused them of inflating crowd numbers.

The council posted a photo of a Yes campaign rally for the Voice, claiming there were 5000 people in attendance.

“Thanks to the 5000 people who came out to Prince Alfred Park today for the Sydney come together for a Yes23 event,” the council tweeted on Sunday.

But social media users quickly pointed out that the number of people in the photo was clearly a lot fewer than what the council had claimed.

Crowd safety expert and former Liberal Democrat candidate for the NSW upper house Daniel Lewkovitz, used crowd modelling software to estimate there were a mere 700 people in the photograph.

Another Twitter user provided a similar estimate:

“There are maybe 800 people there. Unless more in the wings?" the person tweeted.

Another added:

“5000 people? Lucky to be 500.”

On Monday the Council announced it had closed comments on the post and other ones supporting the Voice.

The Council’s censorship of criticism drew even more ridicule than their original Tweet.

“Hey Sydney City Council, if you don’t allow debate but try and cram this yes crap down our throats, stick it where the sun doesn’t shine,” one person tweeted.

“You’re a council. Stop taking sides,” wrote another.

On Tuesday a council spokesperson told media that comments had been closed because they were not “respectful”.

“The City of Sydney welcomes open discussion and a respectful debate on its social media channels, and we ask all users treat one another with respect,” the spokesperson said.

“Recently, there hasn’t been respectful debate taking place in our comments section and we decided to turn comments off on some posts, which is in line with our processes.”

The Council declined to provide examples of disrespectful comments but defended its crowd estimate saying the photo posted had been taken late in the day after most of the 5000 people had gone home.

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