Let’s hit Cyber-barons with Australia’s big stick.

Photo: AP

Andrea Vance is right. The Prime Minister won’t be ditching her Facebook account any time soon.

Writing in the Sunday Star Times, Vance noted that Facebook is her medium of choice “because it allows her to directly engage with a precise and captive audience [where] she is not constrained by troublesome questions from traditional media.” She went on to say Jacinda Ardern won’t be deleting her account “because it wouldn’t be expedient, especially in an election year.”

It is also odds-on that, for the same reason, the Government will not be joining its Australian counterpart in finally coming down hard on the unrecompensed appropriation of news content that attracts billions of dollars in advertising revenue to Facebook and Google.

On Friday, the Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced the much-anticipated mandatory code that will make the social media giants pay for news. Legislation to enact the code will pass through the federal Parliament before the end of the year. Continue reading “Let’s hit Cyber-barons with Australia’s big stick.”

Trolls and fellow travellers in the general election

It’s a fair bet that the New Zealand general election will not cause much of a ripple inside 55 Savushkina Street.

That is the St Petersburg address of the headquarters of the Russian Internet Research Agency (pictured above), which played havoc with the Brexit vote and the US Presidential election.

It may well be gearing up for another campaign among the all-too-susceptible voters of the United States, but we can be reasonably certain that the only danger we face is a bit of mischief during a troll’s lunch break. Continue reading “Trolls and fellow travellers in the general election”

Post-lockdown NZ media revert to attack journalism

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Journalists endanger one of the cornerstones of their profession when they lose sight of the fact that politics is a contest for power. And in New Zealand right now their vision is blurred.

Emboldened by opposition politicians eager to exploit real or imagined weaknesses in the post-lockdown management of Covid-19, some news media are indulging in a blame game.

They are the eager messengers of ‘knocking stories’ that seek to reverse public perceptions that the Government and its ministries did a good job in containing a virus that is decimating other countries.

Not that the Labour-led government did everything right. It didn’t. However, in the giddy pursuit of accusations and culprits, journalists are losing their sense of balance. And, in the process, public confidence in our health systems is being undermined. Continue reading “Post-lockdown NZ media revert to attack journalism”