A fascinating game of dirty politics has been fought in the shadows of the Ihumātao occupation.
Much has been written by Spin Off on the power social media exerted to bring people to the occupation, but there was another fight happening at the sam time, one far less noble than powerful images and art.
While the occupiers were righteously waging a war online to create solidarity, those who opposed them were attempting to rob that social media war of its power, and it’s led to those social media pages being shut down…
Controversial social media pages belonging to the New Zealand iwi opposing the occupation at Ihumātao were shut down this morning.
The social media pages have been criticised for being misleading by looking too similar to SOUL’s social media pages which use the similar name “Protect Ihumātao”.
…many online will have shared these social media feeds without even realising it was the pro-development faction and not the protectors. The language and look of the disinformation accounts were very similar to SOULs…
A spokesperson for Te Kawerau a Maki, Pita Turei, said that he was at the meeting where the “Protecting Ihumātao” social media campaign had been discussed.
He said that the similarity of the pages to SOUL’s social media was done on purpose and was a “tactical move” by the iwi authority.
The pages which appeared online on Monday shared articles and quotes in support of the Fletcher Building development and the deal made between Fletcher and Te Kawerau a Maki.
Kelly Marie Francis, a spokesperson for SOUL said that it was obvious that the online pages had been made to look like SOUL’s social media.
She said that she believed that the pages were shut down because of the negative response.
“They would have been receiving too much flack for it,” she said.
Although the Facebook and Twitter pages for “Protecting Ihumātao” have been deleted, the website is still active. Te Kawerau a Maki has been criticised for paying for this website to sit above SOUL’s website in Google search results relating to Ihumātao.
…to set it up so that the disinformation pro development side is rated higher than the actual protest is sophisticated and a vicious move. It provides a cookie cutter methodology to manipulate social media in these types of asymmetric wars.
It would be interesting to know how much Fletchers were involved in crafting this disinformation campaign and a real warning for the future when these disputes go viral of how the dominant power will attempt to destroy protest movements online.