The Facebook page of a New Zealand political party was suspended days before the election as the page apparently shared what the Big Tech giant says is COVID-19 “misinformation.”
Ever since the coronavirus saga started, social media platforms have been particularly strict on what narratives are allowed and have been flagging content as well as suspending accounts. The same seems to be the case with a lesser-known New Zealand party as well.
Facebook cited “repeated violations” of its policy on misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason behind the shutting down of the Facebook page of Advance NZ Party. It is worth noting that the political party is a strong advocate of anti-vaccination and has also disputed the severity of the pandemic by stating that its fatality rate is “not unlike that of seasonal influenza.”
“We have clear policies against this type of content and will enforce on these policies regardless of anyone's political position or party affiliation,” said Facebook in a statement.
The political party, however, believes that their page was suspended for “political reasons” and not for sharing information about COVID-19. The party's co-leader Billy Te Kahika, in a statement, said, “This is a cynical example of election interference by an American-owned social media outlet that has no business performing any such operation in our sovereign nation.”
The Advance NZ Party, based on the recent reports, is not getting more than 1% of the votes.
As of now, the incumbent Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern seems to be confident about getting re-elected and is banking on her efforts of acting tough against the virus.
Skeptics of the pandemic measures are being harshly dealt with on social media platforms. What's more, even New Zealand's Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters ridiculed a man who was skeptic about the virus and asked, “where is your evidence that there is a virus that causes this disease?”
Peters shut him down by replying, “Here's someone who gets up and says the Earth is flat. Sorry sunshine, wrong place.”