Aotearoa not immune to the global rise of misinformation

New Zealanders are worried about the growing spread of misinformation and the harm it is causing our communities, according to new Classification Office research, The Edge of the Infodemic: Challenging Misinformation in Aotearoa.

This nationally representative survey of over 2,300 New Zealanders aged 16 and over offers a vital snapshot of the impact misinformation is having in Aotearoa, said Chief Censor David Shanks.

Key findings are:

  1. Exposure to misinformation is common, and concern is widespread.
  2. Misinformation is undermining trust – and the internet plays a key role.
  3. Everyone is affected by the spread of misinformation.
  4. New Zealanders think something should be done.
“We know that misinformation – at its worst – can cause real harms to individuals, whānau, communities and society. We’ve seen it in white supremacy groups, the riots at the US Capitol, and in our own backyard with the attacks on 5G towers. We must take the findings of this report and meet this moment with meaningful action, because New Zealanders are telling us this matters,” said Chief Censor David Shanks.
“Amid a wave of misinformation over the past few years, we needed to better understand how Kiwis felt about misinformation and what they think should be done. By doing so we hope to start a conversation about what better, more inclusive solutions might look like,” said Mr Shanks.
“Addressing misinformation doesn’t mean telling people what to think, or stifling debate with more censorship – but Kiwis want to know they can trust the news and information they’re getting, and government can work together with communities to combat misinformation. We must look at better ways for government, community, and online platforms to come together to prevent harm.
“Each of us can also take steps to stop the spread of misinformation – actions such as looking at the source of an article before sharing it, questioning what perspectives are represented in it, and feeling comfortable to ask someone we trust what they think when encountering something we’re not sure about,” said Mr Shanks.

The research aims to raise awareness about the issues and create opportunities for open conversations about how to address misinformation. This work can support cross-government collaboration on potential policy and regulatory responses, including a broad media regulatory review, aid education initiatives, and develop information and resources for the public.

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