New Zealanders prefer 'own' style of misinformation - expert

Source: Q and A

Misinformation has become more widely noticed since the emergence of Covid-19, and as an expert told Q+A, New Zealanders have particular preferences when consuming it.

Kate Hannah, The Disinformation Project lead at Auckland University's Te Pūnaha Matatini, told Q+A's Jack Tame New Zealanders "don't like disinformation that comes straight from the famous ‘disinformation dozen’ in the United States."

According to the Centre for Countering Digital Hate, just 12 people are responsible for almost two-thirds of anti-vaccine content circulating on social media.

"We prefer to have our own people telling us these stories," Hannah explained.

Other preferences include misinformation being told "in our own vernacular," with "associations and links to our own lived experiences."

Hannah admits to worrying about that, and says misinformation will "play a very large role in the next weeks and months" as the vaccine rollout continues.

"They're targeting young people, they're targeting mothers and fathers and parents," said Hannah, including "fears around fertility, pregnancy, breastfeeding - things that are very emotionally charged and personal and scary anyway."

However, when it comes to evaluating what you're seeing, Hannah said critical thinking is vital.

The findings were revealed in new research by the Classification Office.

"The thing to ask is, who is telling this story, how are they personally profiting or benefiting from it and why should I trust them?" she said.