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A release by the Classification Office revealed New Zealanders are thinking something should be done in response to misinformation being spread by people such as racist Lee Williams, Trump fanatic Damien De Ment, ill-informed Terry Opines and Conspiracy Theorist Billy Te Kahika.
Two thousand three hundred Kiwis were surveyed, having at least one belief based on misinformation. One in five had up to three beliefs that were not exactly true, ranging from Covid-19 mis/disinformation about the safety of Vaccines, believing 5G is a ‘killer weapon' to give someone the virus and perspectives of information being shared.
The survey ranged from people between the age of sixteen and above.
Image: CC/ Pexels
Trust has played a key role on the internet. Social media stooped that to an all-new low where New Zealanders think users and corporations are intentionally spreading false and misleading information.
According to findings in the study; Government officials, scientists and more traditional sources such as news media online or offline show a higher level of trust. Those who use social media more regularly tend to express statements often associated with unofficial sources promoting false narratives.
A majority think misinformation is putting an influence on their provocations about public health and environmental issues.
Image: CC/ thisquality
Taken as a threat, it is a common concern and growing worldwide mainly due to QAnon motives following the 2020 U.S Elections and era of Donald J. Trump — 45th President who attempted to overturn the elections — losing to Joe Biden, the 46th President.
It has become part of daily lives for those to believe mistruths and unruly claims the elections in New Zealand were ‘rigged' rather than follow the reality that they are safe and secure.
Trump fanatic, Damien De Ment, baselessly created false narratives about ‘election fraud' on a number of occasions prior to being banned from YouTube.
At protests, he would endorse QAnon and encourage people into believing Trump would be back in office even though the people of the United States democratically elected Biden.
This belief would correlate with a massive groundbreaking red wave Labour achieved from the most recent election; Newsroom reports. This individual has spread conspiracies the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, should be stepped down due to not listening to people of the country following the Covid-19 response and Political objectives.
PM Ardern has made a significant number of promises and stuck to them to unite Aotearoa together regardless of disputant ties from extremist right-wing groups to discredit her.
Image: CC/ AFP
Widespread misinformation can affect everyone despite age, gender, ethnicity or other characteristics.
“It’s relatively common for New Zealanders to express belief in at least some ideas that are linked to misinformation,” the Classification Office says in a statement.
“These are ideas which are not backed by the best available evidence that we have. It can affect us on a personal level, contributing to anxiety, anger, and mistrust.”
Image: CC/ YouTube
So, how does it get dealt with? Groups like ARA – AntiRacism Aotearoa who are against the very thing work together on a number of platforms to combat racists and misinformed individuals from spreading untruths. However, not exactly the nicest way as expected.
Recently racist Lee Williams was de-platformed and cancelled after spreading fear that the He Puapua report is an evil plan for Māori to take over, blaming the Māori Party as responsible — which is not true by all means and is disinformation.
He went to the point to claim PM Ardern had something to do with his removal and that the Government is after him for ”nothing but the truth' to his now-deleted YouTube channel; Cross The Rubicon, which had around 15,700 subscribers.
Image: CC/ YouTube
Ill-informed Terry Opines, just like De Ment, have motives to discredit anything they disagree with.
Byron C Clark has become a victim of his attacks. Most active on Twitter, communicating with followers to shut down people from the far-right who have intentions to incite violence and racial tension, including those spreading misinformation.
Mr Opines alleged cancelling people such as Mr Williams and himself will ‘kill democracy' in the country in dispute of free speech. However, it has limits as to how far it can go before trouble becomes a terror attack.
Image: Supplied - Billy Te Kahika on flight not wearing mask properly
Mistruths have come out from him in a number of videos claiming Vaccines are dangerous and also track people. Not true at all.
thisquality made several reports to Government departments and the Unite Against Covid-19 group from the Department of Prime Minister regarding a dangerous app he commonly promotes called Freedom Village which intends to spread such messages at the cost of recommending anti-5G, Electro Magnetic Field protectors to its users.
Misinformation on almost every occasion has been used to grift money out of followers. As far as disinformation campaigns, Mr Kahika believed that the Government has an evil plan to lock everyone down and vaccinate them against their will. Vaccines under New Zealand law are not mandatory meaning people can choose whether or not to have it. Getting vaccinated, however, is one way to protect not only them but members of their whānau from getting Covid-19.
The moral of the story: platforms on social media must do the right thing by removing accounts from individuals like above who spread misinformation or suggest that they find support and get out of rabbit holes.
Image: CC/ thisquality
“New Zealanders should see this as a societal problem that requires more action. They have differing views on who should do this and how,” the Classification Office says in a statement.
“Many think Government, news media and experts have the biggest role in dealing with the spread of misinformation, but that individual internet user and social media corporations also have an important role.”
Solutions should be looked at to increase further access to good information that will lower volumes of misinformation. It can be achieved with education about the problem, tools and knowledge focusing on being informed and empowered.
Regulation, enhanced transparency and responsibility with the help of evaluated research will further improve resilience by building trust to counter the effects of harm it does to people.
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