Reports & resources

MEDIA RELEASE: Disinformation Project discovers invasive tracking technology used by New Zealand political parties

12 September 2023: Independent research group The Disinformation Project is concerned about the use of invasive user tracking and micro-targeting technology by four major political parties ahead of the 2023 General Election. The group has discovered that the official websites of Labour, National, ACT, and the Green Party use Facebook Pixel without disclosure or user consent, to track all visitors. Pixel-tracking technology, like Facebook Pixel, follows a website’s visitors across other websites and even mobile apps, recording and sharing their information, interests, and behaviour.

“This type of technology being used by political parties is unprecedented in our electoral history. New Zealanders have a basic right to know how their data is being used, and this is especially important when trust and integrity are key electoral issues,” says The Disinformation Project’s Founder and Director, Kate Hannah.

Read the full press release here. Download as a PDF here.

MEDIA RELEASE: The Disinformation Project welcomes greater media scrutiny on claims by politicians

7 September 2023: Independent research group The Disinformation Project welcomes greater media scrutiny on claims made by candidates ahead of the 2023 General Election. Kate Hannah, Founder and Director of the Project, says that it’s important that politicians provide accurate information to New Zealanders when disinformation is at an all-time high. “It’s critical to understand the difference between organised disinformation campaigns and individual instances of false information from politicians, while still holding candidates to a high standard of integrity.”

Read the full press release here.

Working paper: Transgressive transitions

A new working paper titled ‘Transgressive transitions; Transphobia, community building, and community bridging within Aotearoa New Zealand’s disinformation ecologies March-April 2023’ outlines a measurable rise in both volume and tone of transphobia, as well as evidence of foreign interference in New Zealand online communities.

Read more, and access the working paper here.

Dangerous speech, misogyny, and democracy

Since April 2022, we have become particularly concerned about the rise of violent misogyny online and the way it impacts women’s willingness to participate in public life. Dangerous speech, misogyny, and democracy: A review of the impacts of dangerous speech since the end of the Parliament Protest by Kayli Taylor, Kate Hannah, and Dr Sanjana Hattotuwa analyses the impacts of dangerous speech, particularly misogyny, from March 2022 to August 2022.

Read more, and access the working paper here.

Eroded information ecologies: Social cohesion, trust, and the impact of misinformation

Speech by Kate Hannah, Director, The Disinformation Project, delivered at New Zealand International Science Festival (NanoFest) 2022, on 14 July 2022.

Access the speech here.

Hate speech in Aotearoa New Zealand: Reflecting and resisting

Op-ed by Kayli Taylor

Today, June 18th 2022, is the United Nations inaugural International Day for Countering Hate Speech – building on what the institution has highlighted as the growing international issue of hate speech, its incitement of violence, and impacts on social cohesion. The United Nations defines hate speech as “any kind of communication in speech, writing or behaviour, that attacks or uses pejorative or discriminatory language with reference to a person or a group on the basis of who they are.” Hate speech is increasingly a threat to Aotearoa New Zealand, particularly within the Covid-19 pandemic, and our social cohesion. Hate speech, both its online presence and offline consequences, deserves greater reflection and resistance, as we navigate and counter growing information disorders.

Read the article in full here.

Working Paper: The murmuration of information disorders

Aotearoa New Zealand is experiencing an infodemic, where the Covid-19 pandemic furthered the spread of misinformation and disinformation, impacting social cohesion and over the longer term, the country’s democratic fabric and electoral integrity. In our new working paper, Aotearoa New Zealand’s mis- and disinformation ecologies and the Parliament Protest, we help social media companies, journalists, academia, policymakers, and civil society to identify, understand, unpack and meaningfully respond to information disorders.

Access the working paper here.

The Common Good or the Tragedy of the Commons? Social cohesion, trust, and the impact of misinformation, by Kate Hannah

At the Speaker’s Science Forum, TDP Director Kate Hannah described the impact of ‘information disorders’ on the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders, and the role of communities, civil society and institutions in building trust and social connection.

Read more here. Download PDF here.

Mis- and Disinformation in Aotearoa New Zealand from 17 August to 5 November 2021, by Kate Hannah, Sanjana Hattotuwa, and Kayli Taylor

In November 2021, we published a working paper on the trends of misinformation and disinformation we had observed since August 2021 to November 2021. Aotearoa New Zealand’s Delta outbreak meant a shift to Level 4 across the country, and contributed to a sharp increase in the popularity and intensity of Covid-19-specific disinformation and other forms of ‘dangerous speech’ and disinformation, related to far-right ideologies.

Our paper analysed twelve weeks of material, observing key trends, and analysing impact. Our working paper working paper introduces some of our key findings so far on the infodemic – around engagement, content, reception to the Covid-19 vaccine, language, approaches employed, and targeted groups.

Download the working paper here.

Understanding mis- and disinformation in Aotearoa New Zealand

This is a shorter, more digestible version of our public paper from November 2021. It explores the seed and spread of misinformation and disinformation in Aotearoa New Zealand from the beginning of the Level 4 lockdown in August 2021 to November 2021.

Download the overview here.

Evaluating the infodemic: assessing the prevalence and nature of COVID19 unreliable and untrustworthy information in Aotearoa New Zealand’s social media, January-August 2020

The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in Aotearoa New Zealand saw New Zealanders presented with the accompanying infodemic. Aotearoa New Zealand’s experience, which is characterised by mis- and dis-information, as well as the emergence of a number of conspiracy theories, is linked to international patterns within the COVID-19 infodemic overall, but also displays significant situated and differential themes and impacts. We evaluate the prevalence of the COVID-19 infodemic in social and mainstream media February-August 2020, and analyse the narrative intent and social or political discourses of the content collated. In evaluating the nature of COVID-19 narratives over this time period, we find that there are significant changes in the types of discourses these narratives engage with, with an increasing prevalence of conspiracy narratives noted since the re-emergence of community transmission in August. Assessing the impact of these unreliable and/or untrustworthy narratives and their sources, including narrators, we develop preliminary understanding of the ways in which these narratives are at work in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Download the full paper here.