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Advance NZ worst offender of fake news on Facebook among parties - election study

The Advance NZ/New Zealand Public Party is the worst offender of “half-truths” and fake news on Facebook during the election campaign, according to an ongoing study.

Facebook (file). Source: istock.com

The New Zealand Social Media Study, led by Victoria University’s Dr Mona Krewel and Professor Jack Vowles, found 31 per cent of the party’s posts on the social media site were “half-truths” - content that’s not completely false but still contains information that’s not fully accurate - while six per cent were fake news.

The New Conservative Party was second in the running for posting the most “half-truths” (16 per cent of their Facebook posts) and fake news (3.7 per cent).

ACT was third, with nine per cent of their posts on Facebook considered “half-truths”. But, none of their posts spread fake news. 

Vowles said it was “not surprising” that “the only parties spreading fake news on Facebook are Advance New Zealand and the New Conservative Party”. 

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“Advance New Zealand—which also incorporates the New Zealand Public Party—is a new party that needs a lot of media attention to have a chance of success. Negativity or conflict increases the ‘newsworthiness’ of stories,” he said.

“Already before the start of the election campaign, the New Zealand Public Party was spreading conspiracy stories. … It is disturbing most of their misinformation is about Covid-19. 

“If widely believed, it has the potential to become life-threatening.”

Vowles said most of the misinformation spread by the New Conservatives was about abortion. 

“They are very much against abortion and tend to share content and pictures that originate from religious right-wing groups in the US,” he said.

Vowles said ACT “should definitely do better” because it was a party in Parliament.