This post Is dedicated to the men and women of the RSA Least We Forget.
Recently Sean Plunket expressed what many of us have suspected for quietly for months now that some how social media was being censored to dampen down or blunt information which was critical of the government and its plans for a Flag Change.
“So a picture that rotated 4 red peak stolen logos to form a swastika was sent to me earlier this week. I posted it on this page where it was viewed more than 300 thousand times…shared more than a thousand times and like more than 13 hundred times. Now Facebook have intervened to remove it from this page and ban the image presumably because some red peakers complained. That folks is the tyranny of social media which seems to have asserted its pernicious authority in several disturbing ways this week”
The remark coincides with multi-feed back to me by my followers that they can not like or share my posts. I’m inclined to think something is up and this not just a case of por engineering as this page continues to climb in popularity but my reach drop disproportionately – so it does not matter whether a page gets 50 shares or 10 share. It seems to have a maximum reach which simply did not exist a month ago when on some days my reach exceed over 100,000 (now I’m lucky to get 30,000 in a week). This coincided with National (supported by Mediaworks/Fairfax) attack on my article Due Authority.
An opinion piece on my little obscure website which saw an over kill of over twenty mainstream articles, radio, and TV pieces that savaged the concept that the highly corrupt Flag Change process had constitutional implications – the rule of thumb of these attacks was don’t name the exact source [me] and don’t allow that source the right of reply to an article which repeatedly quoted me out of context and got the most basic of facts just WRONG.
Today a reader tipped me off to claims that social media monitoring tools were being employed by National to censor activists and journalist in NZ.
Is their any truth to this claim and is this possible the answer is yes and yes
We know for example that social media is monitored by the electoral office [ who are working on the Flag referendum with Saatchi & Saatchi digital engineers and whose CEO Nicky Bell is on the Flag Panel }.
And we know it is possible to not just monitor online content but filter it as will but manipulating a sites IP address
And we know that in particular what is being filtered is content critical of John Key or the National Party
Of course the Standard is pro Labour so they would say that wouldn’t they – but the idea of the National party using it power to censor the media is also confirmed by the politically neutral corruption watchdog International Transparency.
However it is fascinating to see what National itself has to say about social media monitoring
This is what the Prime Minister had to say about the NZ Government current action online
Now pay attention to the specific reference to “cyber attacks” and “securing our electronic lines of transport and communication”
“Distinguished guests, members of the Institute, ladies and gentlemen. As Prime Minister I have overarching responsibility for New Zealand’s national security. That covers a wide range of threats and risks, from earthquakes to espionage, and cyber-attacks to conflicts between states. It’s about protecting our way of life and the values that shape our society…..We have an obligation to secure our sea, air and electronc lines of transport and communication into and out of New Zealand. We decide who comes here and on what conditions, and we decide who can make use of our resources…. our agencies are doing everything they can to monitor the potential threat posed by radicalised individuals…….Today I can announce that the Cabinet has signed off on a series of proposals for law changes in the short-term – ones that cannot wait for the longer review due to the rapidly evolving environment. …New Zealanders can be sure we are taking careful and responsible steps to protect their safety and security and we will continue to do so. And it turns out that monitoring and securing of electronic lines extends not to just to national security threats but to threats to the National Party and John Key”.
That also means it has the ability to monitor and attack critics as will. Don’t take my word for it. Read the amazing and disturbing article by former National Party researcher and campaign director Grant McLachlan into the dark side of the National parties social media manipulation machine.
“In the fallout, newly-elected MP John Key attended campaign review meetings throughout the country. The major concern of campaign committees was that they were ‘flying blind’ – they couldn’t get media traction and they couldn’t connect directly with potential supporters. What National has done since 2002 is develop the most advanced voter relationship database to collect information and then target potential supporters”
“Every phone call to an electorate office, every letter to the editor, letter to a minister, comment on social media, photo opportunity, or attendance at an event or meeting, – there is someone inputting that data into National’s central database..If data is gold to a politician then the flag debate is the jackpot. Here is a simple issue where most people have an opinion and have expressed it. On Facebook, where most people use their real names, all comments and shares can be monitored, analysed, and categorised. In the blogosphere, commenters’ physical location (aka IP address) is traceable….The flag debate encroaches on traditionally Labour territory. Every Labour leader since Peter Fraser wanted to change the flag. Considering National’s repeated incursions to the left, it is not surprising that Andrew Little is trying to galvanise his core support by opposing the $26 million cost of the flag process… Getting people on the political bandwagon is about maintaining waves of momentum. For something to go ‘viral,’ there needs to be a combination of ‘pushers’ and ‘pullers.’ Pushers are political cronies and opinion leaders willing to pick up a ball, run with it and fend off attacks. Pullers are fair-weather celebrities who put their name behind an issue only if someone has their back and if there is sufficient forward momentum….National has several levels within its organisation that try to sway public opinion. Groups target talkback radio, social media, surveys, and media polls. Crony commentators manipulate, obfuscate, smear, and stigmatise.”
For example we have National candidate and chairman of the Republican movement Holden Lewis running the Change the Flag campaign even though National maintains this is the people’s choice and they will listen to the people. Thoroughly clearly on Facebook this is not the case at all.
1.We know social media censorship is going on (confirmed by direct communication with followers and via monitoring social media insight statistics) and this is also the opinion of mainstream media commentators such as Sean Plunket Radio New Zealand.
2.We know the state agencies which National control have the capacity to monitor and filter online content as they wish.
3.We know from former National Party insiders that National monitors everything and runs social media campaign to promote their views and equally online campaigns to take out online opponents.
So what to do about – here is a few of my own counter filter steps.
A: Don’t rely on on social media alone – an A4 broadsheet cost .20 cent to print and 800 put in the right spots (cafes for example) will reach an audience of 3-4000. Stickers are cheap and good for guerilla marketing campaigns. Community Radio show cost around 40 bucks an hour. A large window sized poster is about 18.00 and in this day of empty shops on the mainstreet their plenty of places to put them and be seen.
B; I’m now taking the practice to forward post to any author/journalist whose link I refer to via email with phone call follow up to confirm they have received my emails (also good opportunity to network in real life). The name of the game is not getting headline it making sure you football is picked up by other players and forwarded to the goal line.
C: I also make sure my content goes on other online sources and I use direct page posting and private messaging to get my data out on to others streams whose IPA’s.
D; Network with other activists and journalist online and offline as will.
Your Ben Vidgen Editor and Marketing coordinator Postman Productions (Ex Royal NZ Artillery & Infantry [3Fld HQ artillery intelligence operator – Force Intelligence