Facebook removes anti-vaxxer's coronavirus video
An anti-vaxxer who unsuccessfully ran for a seat in the 2019 federal election has come out with a video downplaying the risk of coronavirus and encouraging Australians to ignore social distancing guidelines.
The video has been removed from YouTube for violating the site's guidelines and has also been taken down from Facebook.
"You can't catch a virus; it's impossible," said Tom Barnett, a one-time candidate with the Involuntary Medication Objectors Party, in a video posted to social media on March 30.
"The only way that you can catch a virus is by having it injected into your bloodstream."
Mr Barnett recommended people stop social distancing and washing their hands. "Pull your finger out, get outside and do normal things," he said in the video.
The footage exploded online and was viewed more than 186,000 times on YouTube before they took action.
One place it found support was on a Facebook page linked to the far-right group Reclaim Australia, where followers claimed the virus is a conspiracy orchestrated by governments to force people to get flu shots. Zero evidence is offered to back up this claim.
Health authorities across the world, including the Australian Department of Health, have outlined how the virus spreads from person to person through contact with an infectious person or infected surfaces.
In the video, Mr Barnett tried to back up his assertions by boasting of his intelligence. "When I did my last IQ and aptitude tests, I was taken into a separate room and I was interrogated to see if I cheated," he said.
The outlandish conspiracies espoused by Mr Barnett have found support among anti-5G communities too. On March 28, the Facebook page 'We Say NO To 5G in Australia' launched a campaign encouraging people to email their local politicians and news outlets to outline their concerns towards the supposed links between the coronavirus and the rollout of 5G in the country.
Their email claims that 5G will lead to a spike in "electromagnetic radiation" and endanger people with compromised immune systems, the same cohort who are in the high-risk category for developing COVID-19. Again, there is zero evidence to support this claim.
During the 2019 election, Mr Barnett campaigned against mandatory vaccinations and water fluoridation, but didn't have too many people who agreed with him, receiving only 1.2 per cent of the vote in the NSW Richmond constituency.