The Herald reports:
New Zealand First MP and Cabinet Minister Tracey Martin says she personally witnessed a National Party MP instructing online “trolls” to attack a political opponent.
Martin will not name the MP, but says she watched him direct a group of supporters on Facebook to personally attack then-Labour leader Andrew Little while they were sharing a domestic flight during the election campaign.
The Internal Affairs Minister recalled the story at an event hosted by Netsafe in Auckland yesterday, saying that she was concerned about the role of social media in manipulating politics here and overseas. Addressing an audience of about 40 people, she said she had never spoken about it publicly.
“During the 2017 election I was on a plane and there was another Member of Parliament sitting in front of me.”
She said she stood up and witnessed the incident.
“… I watched this person in front of me, who was running a group of 15 trolls on Facebook, give them the messages that they needed to start bombarding the other party that they were trying to have an effect on.
“The messages they sent changed the outcome of the election. It wasn’t the outcome they were hoping for, but that was what they were attempting to do.
“They personalised the messages to try and get one individual to feel so uncomfortable about their position that they removed themselves from it.”
Amazing. It wasn’t the plummeting polls that caused Andrew Little to resign. It was some Facebook comments from National Party supporters.
If Tracey is really worried about MPs manipulating media, I’d love to know what she thinks about this e-mail sent out in 2011:
DO YOU LISTEN TO TALKBACK RADIO?
Would you like to be part of the New Zealand First Talkback Army?
A select group of New Zealand First members will be continually updated by email with policy positions and topical information that they can use to keep the Radio Listening public of New Zealand well informed.
Play your part in the 2011 Election Campaign.
Join our Talkback Army
Organising an army of what she calls trolls (I call them supporters) to manipulate radio listeners seems to be what she is railing against.
So who was the 2011 organiser of this Talkback Army:
Contact person: Tracey Martin
I wonder if they are related?