Updated: Jul 20
PRGuy (@PRGuy17), is the Twitter account of Jeeremy Maluta, visually represented online by The Simpsons' character, Troy McClure. With nearly 90,000 followers, PRGuy has been described as "one of Victoria’s loudest local voices in a hyper-partisan online world" in relation to his Twitter posts defending and supporting Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.
Avi Yemini's Defamation Claim against PRGuy
In March of 2022, Journalist for Rebel News, Avi Yemini, began a legal claim in the federal court against the PRGuy account, claiming that his tweets were defamatory. Mr. Yemini has also claimed that PRGuy is an employee of Daniel Andrews' office.
The allegedly defamatory tweets in question include PRGuy labelling Mr. Yemini a "threat" to Australian national security and that Mr. Yemini was a "criminial" whose position on lockdowns in Victoria had lead to more cases of COVID-19.
Australian Federal Court Orders Twitter to Reveal PRGuy's Identity
In June of 2022, Australian Federal Court Judge, Justice Debbie Mortimer, ordered Twitter to disclose the personal information of PRGuy's Twitter account so that they can be properly identified as part of Mr. Yemini's defamation claim against him. Twitter is required to provide the account's user information, including the name and email address associated with the account within 14 days of the order. The order also included the IP addresses associated with the account at time of registration and those used by the account between late December 2021 and the February 11th 2022 and between March 21st and May 20th of 2022.
As of time of writing, no court has yet proven the claim that the PRGUy account or Jeremy Maluta has indeed defamed Mr. Yemini or has broken the law.
PRGuy's Response to Court Order
Following the order for Twitter to reveal PRGuy's identity, he tweeted that efforts to silence the account would "grow my voice":
“Some of the most important things any of us say require huge sacrifices. I’m a fierce supporter of free speech — even when I disagree or my feelings are hurt — and I’ll fight for it. I’m just getting started.
PRGuy revealed himself to be Jeremy Maluta in an interview with Jordan Shanks in a video released on the 24th June 2022.
PRGuy's Identity Involved in Separate Legal Action
PRGuy's identity was brought up in another legal action in October of 2020 when "Labor-aligned" lobbying firm, Hawker Britton, threatened a podcaster and contributor to The Age, Osman Faruqi, with legal action for his suggestion via tweet that PRGuy was a lobbyist within their firm. PRGuy contacted Mr. Faruqi following the twitter post denying any association to the lobbying firm. Mr. Faruqi then deleted his original tweets all within 12 hours of their original publication.
PRGuy's Reach & Influence
Tim Graham, who studies social media and Twitter at the Queensland University of Technology has described PRGuy's influence as 'seismic':
“PRGuy is able to get a new hashtag, a partisan hashtag, in less than an hour, into the top 10 and into number one in the Australian trending list. That’s seismic influence as measured by national political discussions on a platform."