a social video created a dystopian view of Australia

Viral videos of militarized and aggressive police, deceptive live broadcasts and conspiracy theories have come together to form an online narrative of a dystopian Australia.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis expressed this point last week and raised the idea of ​​severing diplomatic ties with Australia.

“It is not a free country. It is not a free country at all. In fact, I mean, I wonder why we would still have the same diplomatic relations when they do, ”he said at a conference in his state, which has claimed nearly 50 times as many deaths due to it. to COVID-19 than Australia despite its smaller population.

“Is Australia freer than China, Communist China, right now?” I do not know. The fact that it’s even a question tells you that something has drastically gone off the rails with some of this stuff. “

Fox News and other international right-wing media have targeted Australia since mid-year. Tucker Carlson, Dan Bongino and Joe Rogan have criticized Australia’s strict public health measures that have kept the death toll well below the US 700,000.

But online viewers who watched last week’s protests in Melbourne only through broadcasts from sympathetic live streamers and viral clips shared online have rallied around #AustraliaHasFallen, a hashtag with thousands tweeting. on a story claiming that Australia has become a police state.

Many have focused on the response of the militarized police. Sharing a clip of a large riot police phalanx moving towards a small group of loosely organized protesters outside a Melbourne shopping center, one user tweeted: “Grocers under attack. The suburbs of Melbourne. #Australia has fallen.

Video showing Victorian riot police advancing on protesters

Others have used it to attack Australia’s response to COVID in bad faith. “Look at the gun to make sure you’re safe from a virus,” curator speaker and author Melissa Tate tweeted to her nearly 500,000 followers.

Acts of what appears to be police brutality have also fueled concerns. A viral TikTok shows a man slammed violently to the ground in Flinders Street Police Station with the caption: Stop this Draconian Tyranny!

Victoria Police have suspended the arresting officer while they investigate the driving.

A viral TikTok claiming a violent arrest was for “public health.”

Conspiracy theories fueled the anxiety behind this campaign. A popular Republican American Facebook page claimed that Australia had cut its internet to limit coverage of the protests. (United States today released a fact check saying: “No evidence Australian government is restricting access.”)

Other theories claimed that the police were not actually the police, but people working for a private security company. Others have attempted to co-opt the hashtag #AustraliaHasFallen into something more innocuous by posting that Australia has fallen.

The hashtag #AustraliaHasFallen took hold of a legitimate fear: Did the police in the Victorian era use force and appropriate tactics? – and amplified it to paint Victoria as a dystopia. Responding to real concerns about police militarization, police brutality, and the proportionality of COVID public health measures are hampered, not helped, by distortions of what is actually happening on the ground.

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Pierre Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crykey

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