Victoria’s First Peoples’ Assembly has drafted a scathing open letter to Facebook calling for better responses to racial violence on the platform.
Addressed to Meta Australia’s Head of Public Policy, the letter, published on Thursday evening, stated that within the last week alone the Assembly had blocked almost 300 people who have posted “racist attacks and slurs” on their content.
“We call on Facebook to stop putting the onus on us to defend ourselves against a tidal wave of racism and start taking responsibility for what happens on their platforms,” the letter said.
The open letter posted on the Assembly’s social pages. Credit: First Peoples’ Assembly Victoria
The letter invites the platform to work with them to “provide a safe environment for everyone”, stating that their staff
“shouldn’t have to sift through such hate when doing their job”, and that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community “shouldn’t be subjected to hatred for existing”.
Author of the open letter, Amy Rust, a Kokatha woman and Head of Engagement and Communications for the Assembly, ended by noting that whilst they believe the “majority” of Australians believe in fairness and reconciliation, others remained bigoted in their views.
“To those who feel so threatened by Aboriginal people fighting for justice and equality, we’re willing to have the conversations,” they wrote.
“Not all of them are going to be comfortable. But we won’t tolerate racist bullshit.”
Media moves against racism prompts letter
Alongside the open letter, the Assembly has also created a petition to push Facebook to better handle racial abuse, saying the platform’s community standards are not fit for purpose, and instead are contributing to the issue.
Ms Rust said that the decision came in the wake of Wiradjuri Stan Grant’s exit from the ABC and NITV’s decision to deactivate their Twitter account.
Grant announced his departure from the broadcaster on Friday, after severe backlash and racial abuse after his appearance on ABC’s coronation program.
On Wednesday, a 41-year-old man was arrested in Fairfield Heights for alleged online harassment of Grant.
The man was granted bail and will face court again later in the month.
NITV deactivated Twitter on Sunday, citing racism and hate seen and experienced on the platform.