It’s interesting how anthropocentric we humans always are, even when the realm is supposedly science-related. It’s vanishingly unlikely that any of the 160-character messages would have any meaning whatsoever for any other technologically advanced life form (even if, although vanishingly improbable, such a thing existed at the same relative time as us and within 200,000 light years of us).
In reality, any attempt at communication would require establishing a basis for mutual comprehension. The only way we know to do that is via mathematics. There are still huge problems, of course: what base do we use? Even binary is open to misinterpretation. But let’s assume binary because it’s the simplest case. We could send a stream of numbers and then use those numbers to create rudimentary formulae. This would establish (i) the transmission doesn’t originate from a non-purposeful phenomenon such as a FRB or a pulsar, and (ii) the basis for further communication later on (though we’d have to be pretty patient; even the star system targeted by the Australians would mean a 40 year gap between send & receive).
Instead, the Australians just sent a stream of garbage. Perhaps it is fortunate that there won’t be any creatures out there to receive it. I can think of few things more annoying than to be on the receiving end of human social media emesis.
It’s a shame we seem unable to get past our self-referential default when it comes to thinking about the big picture. But at least it must have made for some amusing click-bait stories back in 2009 and 2010.