Facebook removed a Facebook page titled “Matthew Guy– The Liberal Cuts Guy” operated by the Victorian Labor party because it allegedly breached the platform’s integrity and identity policy, and has only reinstated the page once it was clearly marked as satire.
Labor spent more than $116,000 boosting attack ads using the page, criticising the Liberal leader’s record in government and his election policies. It is now showering key electorates in anti-Greens ads via another dedicated Facebook page ahead of Saturday’s Victorian election.
As reported by Guardian Australia, the Labor-authorised Facebook page was mysteriously deleted last week. It was the second-biggest political ad spender on Facebook in the last month, trailing only Victorian Labor’s main party account.
Neither Labor nor Facebook’s parent company, Meta, had responded to requests for comment about whether the page was removed by the company or voluntarily deleted by the party last week.
But a Meta spokesperson this week said Facebook had taken the page down due to an alleged breach of internal policies.
“We have a number of policies for pages to increase transparency and help to promote an informed electorate,” the spokesperson said.
“This page was initially removed because it did not clearly communicate that it is not the official Matthew Guy page, which may be misleading to some users.”
The page reappeared earlier this week, labelled as “Satire/parody” and with a note to say it “is not the official Matthew Guy page”. That disclaimer sits right above an authorisation message from Labor’s state secretary, Chris Ford.
The page, as of 24 November, has not run any ads since 15 November.
“The page has been reinstated as it now includes information that identifies it as a parody page and clearly states it is not the official Matthew Guy page,” Meta said.
The page had received a complaint against it, but Meta would not say where the complaint originated.
A Labor campaign spokesperson noted that the page had been updated.
“We were asked to classify this page as ‘parody’ to be consistent with the platform’s policy – but there’s nothing funny about Matthew Guy’s plans for cuts and closures,” the spokesperson said.
Labor is outspending the Liberals by up to three times on social media ads.
Labor recently launched a new page, titled Greens Facts. Also carrying an authorisation message from Ford, and linking to a Labor-authorised website, the page is boosting four types of ads attacking the Greens.
Ad library data shows the ads are being targeted towards suburbs within the electorates of Richmond and Northcote, where Labor is locked in close contests with the Greens.
Guardian Australia reported this week that the Greens had accused Labor of running “a desperate and dirty” campaign by running the same claims on billboards and flyers.
The Labor spokesperson defended the ads.
“The behaviour of members of the Greens political party as reported in many outlets, including the Guardian, is a matter for them,” the spokesperson said.