Crikey has found Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s private Facebook and Instagram accounts using publicly available information.
The accounts, while partially locked down, reveal information about Morrison and his close contacts, making them a potential national security issue.
Earlier this year, Crikey uncovered Morrison’s Spotify account. The details in this public profile — which has been confirmed to belong to Morrison — led to the discovery of his other social media accounts.
The streaming platform gives users a choice to create an account or sign in using their Facebook account. It is these corresponding details that led Crikey to discover Morrison’s account. A simple Facebook search revealed a Facebook account with a matching name and an identical profile picture that Crikey has chosen not to name.
Sign up to WebCam, Cam's fortnightly newsletter for FREE.
The existence of two identical accounts across platforms isn’t a smoking gun — it’s feasible that a third party just copied the Spotify account’s name and picture — and there are a number of data points that suggest the account belongs to Morrison.
First, it has uploaded photographs of Morrison that do not bring up any results on a Google reverse-image search, suggesting they aren’t posted anywhere else on the internet. His cover picture appears to have been taken on the shore or in the water just off Kirribilli House in Sydney.
Second, accounts belonging to people known to be in Morrison’s personal circle have interacted with the account for years. This includes people such as Brad Bonhomme, the pastor at the Horizon Church, Karen Harrington, the wife of Morrison confidant Adrian Harrington, and Lynette Stewart, a friend of Jenny Morrison.
Third, the personal Facebook page is directly linked to Morrison’s dormant YouTube channel, and a public 2012 Google Sheets document listing Australian politicians’ social media pages then. This seems to be because his personal account was used as his primary public Facebook presence, as many people did until Pages were popularised. Also, Morrison’s public Facebook Page — now his primary public Facebook presence — tagged the account at least three times during 2017. Despite changing the name of the account, the Facebook URL still contains a reference to Morrison’s position as an MP.
Crikey tried to confirm whether this account belongs to Morrison by using Facebook Messenger and Instagram Direct Messages to attempt an audio and video call with the account. Neither were successful.
The Prime Minister’s office did not respond to questions about Morrison’s profiles and whether Australia’s security agencies had done any audits on his accounts.
This finding also suggests that a private Instagram account also belongs to Morrison. Crikey first found the account months ago because it follows other private accounts belonging to Coalition ministers. This account has the exact profile picture as the Facebook account, and appears to have changed from its previous picture at the same time.
What can we learn about the PM from his accounts?
The Facebook account has been locked down, but not overly so. There are a handful of sources of information still available: profile picture, cover photo, photos left public, the names and profiles of the account’s friends, and partial details of the email address and phone number linked to the account.
From this we can tell the Facebook account is active. On August 16, its profile picture was updated to add a profile frame — like a badge around the profile picture — saying “fully vaccinated”. (Bonhomme replied: “Me too ✅”).
The account’s profile picture shows Morrison wearing tennis shoes that were infamously poorly photoshopped over for an official photograph displayed on his website. It’s unclear why he would choose to use this photo on his Facebook profile: while clearly obscuring his identity somewhat, the image is well known enough to tip someone off.
There are times when the account has coincided with significant events during his prime ministership. His cover photo was posted the night before he and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg released their 2019 “Back in the Black” budget. His new profile picture? Posted shortly after Morrison’s office put out a statement saying he was working with Peter Dutton and Marise Payne to bring 130 Australians in Afghanistan home.
While it’s not possible to see how many friends he has, all his posts have fewer than 10 likes and comments, suggesting either he has few connections or receives very little engagement from those who can see his account.
Facebook partially reveals the email address associated with the account, listing it as ending with @b******.com — consistent with a possible Telstra Bigpond email account.
The Instagram account is set to private, meaning there’s even less available information than his Facebook but there are a few things that can be gleaned.
The account has one hidden post. It also has 0 followers and follows 48 accounts, up from 47 a few weeks ago. These lists are private, but Crikey has been able to figure out some of the accounts he follows by searching other account’s public following lists: these include Horizon Church, the Cronulla Sharks and, naturally, the official Scott Morrison account. He doesn’t follow the Australian government’s account.
The name of the account — which Crikey has also chosen not to publish — appears to be a nod to Morrison being Australia’s 30th prime minister.
A national security risk?
More concerningly, the public details available on Morrison’s account also allow insight into his personal connections and their lives. Crikey was able to use Morrison’s account to find the other friends’ and family accounts.
When BuzzFeed News found US President Joe Biden’s personal Venmo account this year, it highlighted it as a potential national security risk:
By finding these accounts, a person could physically stalk the president, his aides, or members of his family, creating a physical risk for the White House. There are also espionage risks. A spy or political opponent could also use this information to find out personal information about those close to the president, or to pose as a member of Biden’s inner circle and communicate with the president or others under false pretences.
Morrison has a complicated relationship with social media platforms like Facebook. At the Australian Christian Church national conference earlier this year, he shared his conflicted feelings.
Social media has its virtues and its values and enables us to connect with people in ways we’ve never had before. But those weapons can also be used by the evil one and we need to call that out.
He’s lashed out at Facebook before, saying its decision to temporarily ban news — or “unfriend Australia” as he called it — was arrogant. Despite this, Morrison is an avid user of it and Instagram to promote himself and his political causes.
Now we know he continues to use it personally as well.