Labour signs up to Facebook's new transparency rules ahead of election

Labour has announced it is signing up to Facebook's new transparency rules and will have the cost of its big election promises independently verified.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Source: 1 NEWS

"I don't want New Zealand to fall into the trap of the negative fake news style campaigns that have taken place overseas in recent years," Labour leader Jacinda Ardern said from Martinborough today.

"Facebook has introduced authorisation and transparency measures to make elections overseas fairer and the Labour Party will voluntarily adopt these measures here.

"It means voters can see who is behind paid advertising online, how much they are spending and who they are targeting. The measures help avoid anonymous fake news style ads."

The Green Party signed up to the transparency rules last October and at the time Labour refused to unless National also was on board, reported Stuff. However, today Ms Ardern said that "has never been my perspective" around following other political parties. 

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson said that it was "critical that we do all we can to protect New Zealand’s healthy democracy from this sort of toxic campaigning". 

Ms Ardern said today that Labour is "absolutely committed to this". 

"If an ad appears in your Facebook feed you should know who it's from and why you were targeted," the Prime Minister said.

"These rules are compulsory in the US, UK, Canada and the EU amongst others, but not here. We think it's the right thing to do to voluntarily adopt them anyway and set a clean tone for the election."

Ms Ardern said she would guarantee the cost of large-scale promises from her party would be independently verified, "so voters can be sure of what they are voting for".

National Party Leader Simon Bridges told media today that signing up for the new rules was "under consideration" by his party, but said he remains confident that their advertisements on the platform have been fair.

"We stand by all our advertisements - they are factually correct and have been shown to be so, Mr Bridges said.

Mr Bridges labelled the Labour and Green parties signing up as "virtue signalling", saying "there's not a lot of substance behind it".

"We've got our ads, we've got an advertising standard process, we know the facts we put in them are right."

The Government proposed last August to develop an independent Parliament Budget Office to monitor Government spending and cost political party policies.

However, it was only on track to be operational from mid-2021 – after this year's election.

"Have policy costings independently verified improves the quality of information voters have about policies and ensures better policy," Ms Ardern said.

In December, a review launched by the Justice Committee recommended prohibiting foreigners from advertising on social media to influence a New Zealand election outcome and implementing constraints and legal obligations on social media platforms.

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The Labour leader spoke to her MPs at the party’s retreat in Martinborough, telling them “New Zealanders deserve that kind of election campaign “. Source: 1 NEWS

It comes as Ms Ardern pledged Labour would run "a positive campaign, a factual campaign, a robust campaign" in this year's general election.

National's Simon Bridges today criticised the Government, saying benefit numbers were "spiralling out of control".

Latest benefit figures show that in December 2019, 147,464 people were receiving the Jobseeker Support benefit, compared to just over 134,000 the year before – a 10 per cent increase. 

The figures come amid a low unemployment rate of 4.2 per cent.