Others contained homophobic slurs towards a Young Liberal president; described Indians as “curries”; and denigrated Mormons who had been recruited to the join the party.
“Can we send the Mormons to Indonesia with the rest of our rubbish?” one message said.
“Can the state president enact a de-mormonisation program like the allies did with the Nazis after WWII?” another remarked.
Opposition leader Michael O’Brien initially dismissed the matter as “fake news”, telling reporters it seemed “too convenient” that the language was similar to several comments – also made by Victorian Liberals – that had already been aired in the media.
However, Jodel, which is based in Berlin, has contacted The Age saying it has intervened to block the posts, some of which it deemed inappropriate for the new platform.
“As we are not only a social network but a hyperlocal community, we set some guidelines. They shall ensure Jodel is a place for everyone, without any hatred, discrimination, harassment or bullying,” a spokesman said.
“If users offend our guidelines, the posts will be blocked by our user moderators.”
Jodel is a relatively new social media app that allows people to post blurbs that can be seen by nearby users without giving away their identity.
But while the messages were anonymous, they either contained the Liberals’ official state council hashtag – #sc2019 – or were posted in real time from Moonee Ponds, where hundreds of MPs and delegates gathered this month to elect a new governing body.
Jodel’s spokesman said the offensive posts were detected after moderators noticed “higher activity in Melbourne than usual”. Due to privacy reasons, the group could not give out any further information about who was behind the messages, but suggested that it was relatively rare for the app’s users, mostly based in Europe, to be blocked.
The exchanges are embarrassing for the Liberals, partly because they are not the first time the party has come under fire over its use of social media. Earlier this year, several candidates were forced to withdraw from the federal election contest after offensive remarks were made public.
Last year, the Liberals also suffered a blow when homophobic and racist messages exchanged by then party heavyweights Marcus Bastiaan and Paul Mitchell were aired.
A review into that exchange was delivered to the Victorian Liberals’ decision-making authority on Thursday night. As reported by The Saturday Age, both men say the inquiry cleared them of “detrimental” conduct. However, Mr Bastiaan still faces the threat of suspension over his involvement.
Farrah Tomazin is a senior journalist and investigative reporter for The Age, with interests in politics, social justice, and legal affairs.
Benjamin is a state political reporter