Reports & resources

Media release: Disinformation Project concerned by statements from Winston Peters

27 October 2023: The Disinformation Project is concerned by statements made by Winston Peters over the last 24 hours, which included false information about the Christchurch Mosque attacks.

Peter’s comments are related to The Christchurch Masjidain Attack Coronial Inquiry which began this week. This process is intended to establish the facts of the events on the day of the attack, including, when desired by families, the details of when and how victims died. Peters’ statements could impact or disrupt this Coronial process.

“Peter’s comments that the Prime Minister’s office kept ‘basic information hidden’ about their response to the attacks, are inaccurate and misleading. The information he refers to was described in some detail in the Report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry, which was published in December 2020,” says Kate Hannah, Director, and Founder of The Disinformation Project.

Read the full media release here.

Disinformation about the Hamas-Israel conflict: IMPACTS ON AOTEAROA NEW ZEALAND

20 October 2023:

The Disinformation Project is an independent research group that studies disinformation networks and their impacts in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Since 7 October, we have witnessed a growth of false and/or misleading information relating to the conflict between Hamas and Israel on social media platforms.

Read the full press release, and access the summary, as well as the full version of Race and rage: Examining rising anti-Māori racism and white supremacist ideologies in Aotearoa New Zealand report, here.

Race and rage: Examining rising anti-Māori racism and white supremacist ideologies in Aotearoa New Zealand

9 October 2023: Independent research group The Disinformation Project has published a report showing that disinformation is contributing to a rise in anti-Māori racism and exposure to white supremacist beliefs in Aotearoa New Zealand. The research, conducted from June to September this year, shows this pre-election period is characterised by increased antagonism and tension on issues of co-governance, contributing to offline violence.

Read the full press release, and access the summary, as well as the full version of Race and rage: Examining rising anti-Māori racism and white supremacist ideologies in Aotearoa New Zealand report, here.

Disinformation and the 2023 General Election

25 September 2023: In the lead-up to the 2023 New Zealand General Election, The Disinformation Project has created a resource to explain disinformation and outline how it can harm our electoral democracy. Disinformation and the 2023 General Election is a short, accessible explainer now available on our website. Read more, and access the guide here.

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

20 October 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.

Read full press release 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.