TWITTER WATCH: National’s social media misinformation campaign a new dark dawn for NZ Politics


National Party’s claim Taranaki elective surgeries have dropped 10pc ‘flat out wrong’, Minister of Health says

Health Minister Dr David Clark says claims by National that elective surgeries carried out in Taranaki have dropped ten per cent are “flat out wrong”. 

On Monday, Taranaki-King Country National MP Barbara Kuriger sent out a press release stating Taranaki District Health Board (TDHB) saw more than 400 fewer elective surgeries discharged in the year to June 2019 compared with the previous year.

Kuriger said the Government could not be trusted on health and Clark was failing to deliver the care New Zealanders need. 

But in an emailed statement, Clark said the figures used by Kuriger were were not the relevant ones, and the opposition knew it. 

National’s social media campaign is the key to their win in a 2020 election. After meeting with the NZ team who helped elect Scotty Morrison in Australia using micro targeted social media messages designed to enrage white older men, Simon Bridges now has more social media designers in his Opposition Leaders department than actual researchers.

Electioneering previous to Facebook amounted to identifying voters from a known voting pool and serving that voting pool up messages that made them vote. This was crude targeting, but if you lived in a wealthy neighbourhood, you would hear messages attuned to you, if you lived in a poorer neighbourhood, you would hear messages tailored for that environment.

Facebook however allowed you to hunt not just for known voters, but that vast swathe of people who also don’t bother voting.

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On the Left we have told ourselves that vast swathe of people who don’t vote are poor and brown and disenfranchised, and while that is certainly true, it also includes a large number of angry white men who don’t bother voting because they feel culturally alienated by the current paradigms of micro-aggression policing and Millennial sensibilities. This group of males are economically paranoid by their perceived lack of cultural power and whose economic anxiety clashes with being told they are the ones with the privilege.

Rather than engaging, these male white voters simply shield themselves in apathy and cynicism and don’t vote.

Facebook and Cambridge Analytica suddenly had hundreds of data points to know how to precisely push those angry white non voters into rage fuelled voting machines. This manipulation of white male anger become the driving force that saw Trump win, Brexit win and Scott Morrison win.

This is the playbook National are drawing from.

But playing to the worst angels of our nature is just part of the plan, outright deception and manipulations are also part of this plan…

… the difference between the two bars is far, far greater proportionally than the difference in actual numbers, which is an ongoing trend with National’s specifically targeted social media falsehoods…

…as statistician Thomas Lumley points out about the above message

It’s designed to look like a barchart, but if it were a barchart the dimensions of the colored bits would have a closer quantitative relation to the numbers being displayed. I’m going to assume the numbers are correct, because that’s the sort of thing people are more careful about. The bars aren’t.

To start with, the red bar is wider than the blue bar, which is a well-known graphical exaggeration technique. But that’s not the real problem. The real problem is the heights.

On my laptop screen, I measured the red bar as 61% higher than the blue bar. But $2.23/L is only 16% higher than $1.91/L: that’s nearly a four-fold exaggeration of the difference

The dark red ‘Tax’ section of the red bar is 92% higher than the dark blue ‘Tax’ section of the blue bar, but $1.12 is only 29% higher than $0.87: more than a three-fold exaggeration.

If the heights were proportional to the numbers, as in a real barchart, it would look like this:

But wait, there’s more!  The blue bar is averaged over nine years of National government; the red bar is from last week.  That means the difference between the blue and red bars is partly inflation.  Over the time since September 2008, the RBNZ calculator says there has been 18% inflation.  We could say, as a rough approximation, that the data spread over nine years should get half the inflation applied.  Doing this would wipe out about half the difference between the blue and red bars, to give a comparison like this one:

There has been an increase in petrol prices due to tax increases under Labour. It’s not anywhere near as big as National’s graphic implies.

…so not only will National play to the most fearful, angry and insecure parts of the electorates psyche, it will openly lie about facts and misrepresent them on social media outlets that are not covered by the BSA.

The structural reality of how National intend to make this the most negative election ever by playing directly to that negativity must be consistently pointed out and explained to our whanau so that they don’t get scammed into voting hatefully in 2020.

National are actively attempting to emotionally manipulate you, resist their manufactured and well crafted lies and help others resist it.

Don’t attack those who have been duped into believing the lies because that path leads to entrenching their vote to National, help show them how they’ve been deceived and give them the respect and agency to make their own decision once the scales fall from their eyes.

You combat negative populism with hope, care and love. Piss and vinegar on social media won’t get us anywhere.


  1. Memes are designed to excite emotions at the expense of the intellect or knowledge. I see many memes on Facebook where the poster has no idea that they have been created by right wing and conservative groups to attack progressives. One recent one compared the income of grid iron player and Black Lives Matter protestor Colin Kaepernick to that of Nike workers. The poster had no idea to who CK was and thought they were protesting against poor working conditions for Nike workers in poor countries.

  2. The rental vs Homeowner vs landlord is a well used attack strategy by Labour, Greens and the Natz and dominated the last 4 elections.

    If the cost of building insurance is up, council rates are up, rental insurance is compulsory and prices of construction services and materials up, then rents will go up!

    Rents are also up and in short supply, because their are so many new regulations coming in for rental properties… which are taking out the cheaper rentals while record homelessness grows…

    With deregulated profit driven construction it apparently can take $100k to bring a house up to the aspirational new rental standard or $650k to know down and rebuild one.

    Apparently they are thinking of making it harder to use other cheaper forms of housing too, like caravans.

    Have yet to see any real regulation on the above price increases that effect housing from the commerce commission and other bodies but the Greens, Natz and Labour spend all their time on making gold plated rental standards during a housing and income crisis, doh!

    Have not even mentioned the 50,000 new permanent residents/citzens per year, the 250,000 temporary permits for people to live here per year and the 4 million tourists who need somewhere to stay/drive/go to the toilet per year…

    But nothing to do with the housing crisis!

  3. It’s easier to fool a person than to persuade them they’ve been fooled.
    – Mark Twain

    If you get your lie out first, the damage is mostly done.

  4. “Taranaki-King Country National MP Barbara Kuriger sent out”….. we say a lie. National always lied to us from 11 years ago so we need to ignore all their voices as they are prepared to perjurer their soul to win.

  5. National- the non thinking man’s party.
    The only thing stupid Nats are smart enough at, is realizing there are enough dumb arses out there to con.

  6. To the current batch of self-serving NZ National Party MPs but where were your voices of concern when Bill English was Double Dipping on Accommodation Costs???!!!

    Oh right???!!!!! Your lack of a voice of condemnation for the actions of ONE OF YOUR MPs reflects badly back upon you all. If you did not have the guts to stand up to ONE of YOUR MPs then how can anyone want to vote for a National MP that can never ever stand up for the rights of those in the electorate they are supposedly a representative of???!!!!!!!

    Spreading mis-information aka bullshit and lies appears to be an American import that the NZ National Party are comfortable(quoting one of John Key’s pet words)with.

    And so if this is the typical NZ National Party tactic then I guess we can now know they do not merit any votes in the 2020 election because of their amazing lack of honesty or credibility.

    Way to go National. Spread more lies in the hope some in the community will believe those lies who just so happen to be in the lower socio-economic areas that National often target whilst in government.

    Mind you one tends to want to ask the question as to why National will forever attack the lower paid whilst turning a blind eye to the self-serving tactics of one of their number eg the Double Dipping MP for Dipton?????!!!!

  7. There’s disinformation here too. Tell me again how “angry old white men” who vote National make up over 50% of the voting population.

    They don’t.

    Campaigns like this attempt to strengthen trust and resolve amongst their potential voters. That number’s actually very small and the biggest threat to it is people voting for minor parties instead. National want to govern on their own rather than rely on MMP. Nothing about this campaign will do anything to cause Labour or Green voters to change direction.

    And speaking as someone with boots on the ground, enough people are fucking sick of Bridges even out of old National supporters that no amount of social media work will make a difference. He’s seen as greasy, weak, soft, and a liar.

    By contrast it’s better for almost everyone if a coalition government is elected. National will be less free to do whatever the fuck they want, and minor parties that have actually listened to people to get into their position have some say over what gets made into law. Provided you’re not simply strong-arming your entire party and three others to always vote how you want them to, coalitions are a better form of representation of the people. Current coalition withstanding of course, as they’re one of those strong-arm voting blocs that doesn’t care what its voters want.

  8. Never mind that most of the tax increase was predetermined by legislation brought in by National in the first place…

  9. Recently the NZ National Party have embarked on deliberately misleading double page adverts in especially their specific Mouth-piece of the NZ National Party(AKA the tabloid NZ Herald).

    My thoughts now are is National having to ‘clean out their various bank accounts’ especially those bank accounts that wealthy overseas people donated to over a period of time?

    And so to give the impression that National have hardly any money in their coffers that were donated by those who in return received “Instant Kiwi citizenship” the money acquired by perhaps wicked means(aka nefarious)needs to disappear very quickly because National might be required to ‘open their books’ to what is really in THEIR bank accounts???!!

    What National has probably hoped to achieve through their adverts has had the opposite affect on me. I have completely switched off from even listening to the Village Idiot Simon Bridges having his ‘font of knowledge and wisdom’ on the telly or in the News.

    I cannot be bothered with National. They are behaving badly and resorting to all the dirty tricks that I would a civilised and adult person wouldn’t do.

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