During the 2016 Labour leadership contest, there was outrage over the ‘purge’ of Labour members and supporters carried out by Labour’s HQ, in which many people from both groups had their right to vote in the election withdrawn – and in some cases were suspended and even expelled, based on comments they had made on social media.
Labour’s headquarters is considered by many to remain sympathetic to the right-wing – or ‘moderate’, depending on your viewpoint – faction.
Many of those affected complained that comments used to suspend them had been made on accounts set to ‘private’, which Labour ‘NEC panels’ should not have been able to access.
The SKWAWKBOX has obtained an audio recording of a call between a member of Labour’s compliance unit and a suspended member who is complaining at just such an apparent ‘hacking’ – her term – of her private Facebook feed by a panel that subsequently suspended her and blocked her ‘£25 vote’.
The response by the compliance officer who does not deny, or seem surprised by, the fact that private comments on a secured Facebook feed had been used, includes a striking comment. Below is the audio with subtitles – redactions have been made to remove personal information and for brevity:
The SKWAWKBOX contacted Labour’s press office for comment. A Labour spokesperson said:
The Labour Party has no special codes or software and cannot access anybody’s private social media feeds. The Labour Party’s rules and procedures are compliant with all areas of UK law, including the Data Protection Act.
However, guidance recently issued by the party’s General Secretary Iain McNicol appears to suggest that the very act of using any social media comments to suspend or expel members contravenes the Data Protection Act, raising serious concerns about the exercise by the party’s bureaucracy that many felt was an attempt to winnow out likely Corbyn voters.
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