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Disinformation and Vitriol Speech Rampant in New Zealand Election Season, Urgent Action Needed

Disinformation and Vitriol Speech Rampant in New Zealand Election Season, Urgent Action Needed

Sanjana Hattotuwa, a researcher with the Disinformation Project, has warned that the current election season in New Zealand could be the most disinfo

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Sanjana Hattotuwa, a researcher with the Disinformation Project, has warned that the current election season in New Zealand could be the most disinformation-heavy yet. He has noted that vitriol and conspiratorial speech over the past couple of weeks are worse than anything he’s seen in the last two years, despite the presence of previous mechanisms to deal with it. He says there is no policy, framework, regulatory mechanism, best practice, or legal oversight in place. Urgent action is necessary, such as the implementation of legislation, community-based initiatives, or a stronger focus on the March 15 mosque attacks inquiry recommendations. Hattotuwa has observed neo-Nazi groups targeting politicians, which is a new level of vitriol, and that the lines between groups motivated by ideology and those using disinformation to target authorities are becoming increasingly blurred. The lack of tools to deal with disinformation and conspiratorialism is particularly worrying, and Hattotuwa believes the situation will only get worse as the election nears. Countermeasures could include legislation, community-based action, or stronger implementation of the recommendations of the Royal Commission of Inquiry.

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