by Katherine Wong and Daniel Magee
On Sunday morning, at least fourteen SRC candidates from different tickets reported that they were unable to react to, or comment on, Spice Up UNSW’s Facebook page.
Nine out of thirteen candidates from Together who checked, had been blocked by Spice Up’s Facebook page, as well as four out of four who checked on Grassroots Resistance. Left Action has also told Tharunka that several prominent members of their tickets were prevented from commenting after they had criticised Spice Up’s policies.
Luc Velez, the Grassroots candidate for Education Officer said, “they have blocked me from commenting, deleting two comments of mine. The first was a comment on one of their initial posts, which gained more likes than their initial post; this is probably why they chose to delete it. I posted a much more substantial comment on one of their policy points about SSAF… Which they very quickly deleted – within five minutes.”
When students on UNSW Discussion Group highlighted that Spice Up had been deleting comments critical of the ticket’s policies, Spice Up put out a response. They alleged that the now-deleted comments were, “entirely infactual [sic] and intentionally misleading” and that removing them was, “in the best interest of students.”
All nine of the Together candidates who had been blocked said they had never commented on, or interacted, with Spice Up’s posts.
“About 70% of the people on our ticket who checked are not able to comment on Spice Up’s page. But we weren’t intending to do so anyway because we try focus on a positive, constructive message and we don’t think getting into dogfights in comments sections is a constructive way to discuss policy,” said Tom Kennedy, current SRC President and NUS candidate for Together.
In their response post, Spice Up has also accused other tickets of blocking Spice Up candidates. “Our opponents have blocked us from their social media accounts and public pages so that we are unable to reply to their false narratives. This brings into question whether or not they themselves are open to the scrutiny of which they claim to be so fond.”
Left Action, Grassroots Resistance and Together candidates say they have not blocked anyone from commenting on their pages.
A Spice Up representative said: “We decided to block our opponents in retaliation only.”
“Members of opposing groups have blocked some of our candidates from their personal Facebook accounts. This makes us unable to see or reply to any of their criticisms against us.”
Tharunka asked Spice Up to provide screenshots of their candidates being unable to respond to their opponent’s posts. Spice Up declined to send any screenshots, a representative said: “screenshots are hardly good evidence in this situation.”
When Tharunka mentioned that other tickets had demonstrated that their pages had not blocked any users, Spice Up said, “they have seemingly unblocked us to create some kind of story here,” and accused the opposing tickets of “a petty level of politicking.”