Fire and Fury highlights the challenge of misinformation in Aotearoa
Stuff’s Fire and Fury documentary shows that online misinformation can lead people in Aotearoa to take extreme views with real-world consequences, like protests blocking Auckland motorways, and the occupation at Parliament. It shows that sharing of the most concerning misinformation is driven by a small group of people, but it can lead to big consequences!
The documentary highlights the important point that the vast majority of dis- and misinformation online can be traced back to a very small group of people.
However, dis- and misinformation spread faster and wider than factual information because they play upon the fears and anxieties of people who are seeking advice online and have an existing mistrust of institutions, e.g. people seeking alternative health advice.
We strongly encourage people to watch the doc, discuss the issues raised, and to input on the Government’s current review of the content regulatory system. That’s the space where policy ideas need to be worked out with communities! Consultation is expected to start sometime around mid-September. More info about that can be found here: Media and online content regulation
To be effective, we think any response needs to start by building trust and bringing communities along. We would like to see a lot more proactive community-based educational work. Right now TohatohaNZ and Tauiwi Tautoko are some examples, but a lot more is needed.
The documentary highlights work by researchers at the Disinformation Project, which has been vital to understanding the behaviours and actors driving the spread of misinformation in Aotearoa.
It also shines a light on how people doing this work face abuse and harassment, including stalking and death threats against researchers and journalists. Both Paula Penfold and Kate Hannah, of the Disinformation Project, show great courage in bringing these stories to light. They shouldn't have to.
InternetNZ would like to see much better systems to protect people against online hate, harassment and death threats that deter this type of work and fall unfairly on women and gender minorities.
InternetNZ and others have been working to highlight the challenges of online misinformation and to champion community-led responses to it.
Some of our related work
- How do we stop misinformation being a superspreader? InternetNZ op-ed
- Infodemiology of Covid-19: navigating misinformation in New Zealand InternetNZ blog
- Misinformation challenge demands a more effective response InternetNZ media release
- The other pandemic — how can Aotearoa protect itself against misinformation? InternetNZ blog
- Platforms and Misinformation InternetNZ report
- Building on the content regulatory review - July 2022 - InternetNZ’s draft input on the upcoming content regulatory review