Speculation has been rife for years now that anonymous Twitter troll account PRGuy17 has some connection, paid or not, to the Daniel Andrews government given its undying devotion to the regime.
The account started up in 2020 and was almost immediately flocked to and followed by a large amount of left-wing, blue-tick verified Twitter accounts – which is unusual for new anonymous accounts. It was this attention that started the rumours that the account was operated by someone of significance.
Over the years, some of the content posted by PRGuy17 has crossed the line. One recent incident involved (now deleted) comments posted about Rebel News reporter Avi Yemini in which PRGuy17 accused him of being a ‘threat to Australia’s national security’ and a ‘criminal’ along with unfounded comments about ‘far-right’ activism.
Rebel News lawyers filed in the Federal Court earlier this week to compel Silicon Valley giant Twitter to reveal personal details related to the account.
It remains likely that the Federal Court of Australia will approve the request, given that Yemini is expected to sue PRGuy17 for defamation. Ordinarily Twitter does not reveal information about its users unless there is a court order in place.
“We would require, for example, a court order or subpoena,” Twitter confirmed to the press in a statement.
PRGuy17 responded to the legal action by tweeting out:
“I note a suit has reportedly been filed with the Federal Court to “finally prove” that I work for Dan Andrews. There’s even a fundraiser to cover the costs. What this means is that people who don’t like Dan Andrews are paying money to actually prove I don’t work for him. Nice.”
And then later followed with:
“During an election year, this will be a most welcome favour to Dan Andrews – finally clearing up the wild rumours that his office is behind some kind of secret social media operation. Much better PR than any I could provide with a hashtag.”
Despite these comments, PRGuy17 has not opted to clear the Daniel Andrews government by voluntarily unmasking his account.
Yemini was interviewed by Sky News Australia host Rita Panahi on Wednesday night to discuss the legal proceedings.
“We’re very confident that Twitter will hand over the identification of the troll [PR Guy],” said Yemini, confident that Twitter would surrender details of PRGuy17’s identity.
“What do you say to those who argue that anonymous accounts and anonymity is really quite crucial on social media and you shouldn’t try to unmask an account even if it’s a troll account…?” asked Rita Panahi.
“Usually I’d agree but when you cross a line it doesn’t matter who you are, if you do something unlawful or if someone has a civil claim against you, you shouldn’t be able to hide behind an anonymous thing – it doesn’t give you a free pass. I am more than welcome for everyone to have anonymous accounts. […] PRGuy has crossed the line, specifically with me.”