Facebook shut down the page of conspiracy-embracing political party Advance New Zealand on Thursday just two days out from a general election, accusing it of spreading misinformation about the coronavirus.
“We don’t allow anyone to share misinformation on our platforms about Covid-19 that could lead to imminent physical harm,” a spokesperson for the social media giant told AFP.
The action prompted the party’s co-leader Billy Te Kahika — who has amassed a huge following using the online platform — to accuse Facebook of meddling in the upcoming vote.
“Facebook have now officially interfered with the New Zealand 2020 elections,” Te Kahika claimed in a live video posted to his personal Facebook page shortly after the takedown.
“They did it in the middle of a broadcast and it’s unbelievable, guys. This is amazing…they’ve actually carried through with the threat.”
Facebook’s action against a registered political party in the midst of an election campaign is unprecedented in New Zealand.
It comes as the company shows an increased willingness to act against misleading political claims, fake accounts pushing partisan agendas and hate speech such as Holocaust denial.
The company recently banned a politician from India’s ruling Hindu nationalist BJP for hate speech, and on Thursday blocked links to a New York Post article purporting to expose corrupt dealings by US Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
Facebook said it would enforce its policies on coronavirus misinformation “regardless of anyone’s political position or party affiliation”.
“We removed Advance New Zealand/New Zealand Public Party’s Facebook Page for repeated violations” of misinformation policies, it said.
[Sourced from Agencies]