ABC boss defends social media politics as tweets come under scrutiny again

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On Oct. 21, Harmer retweeted Senator Whish-Wilson’s tweet saying, “LNP muzzled debate on bill to stop fossil fuel-destroying project #pep 11 despite Scott Morrison and Liberal MPs Lucy Wicks , Jason Falinski, Trent Zimmerman and Dave Sharma having all voiced their opposition to the project.

Mr Anderson said the broadcaster considered a number of factors to determine whether an employee’s social media activity posed a reputational risk to the ABC.

“We’re looking at ‘likes’ versus ‘retweets’ versus what they tweeted, what’s the context [and] what is the subject,” he said.

Senator Bragg also brought up tweets from comedian Julia Zemiro, who hosts the ABC TV show Home delivery by Julia Zemiro. In a tweet posted on December 31, Zemiro said: “On this last day of 2021, I pledge to do everything I can to vote this state of NSW and the federal government. I don’t know what the alternatives will be, but I will NOT reward @ScottMorrisonMP @Dom_Perrottet and the like with another ‘go’.

Mr Anderson said Zemiro – as someone hired by an outside production company to make the ABC program – provided an example of the challenge of enforcing the code of conduct.

“At the end of the day, when someone is removed from you and not in your direct employment, you obviously have less control over their behavior,” Mr. Anderson said.

“I will point out that Ms. Zemiro is not a journalist, so she does not report on politics at any given time. She has a factual entertainment program and espouses her own opinions.

At the request of Senator Bragg, Mr. Anderson agreed to file on notice anonymized data on the number of investigations the CBA had launched into potential breaches of its policy.

The ABC also tightened its employment contracts last year to make it clear that it would not take legal responsibility for employees’ social media activities.

It later emerged that the ABC had paid Four corners Journalist Louise Milligan’s personal legal costs of nearly $200,000 after she was sued by MP Andrew Laming over a series of tweets. At the time, Mr Anderson justified the decision by arguing that the broadcaster feared being held vicariously liable and that the legal costs could skyrocket to $700,000.

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