Ardern’s online messages keep spirits up in New Zealand’s coronavirus lockdown

A woman struggles moving her office chair and other items in the normally-busy central business district Wellington after New Zealand imposed a lockdown in a bid to smother coronavirus infection rates. (AFP)
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Updated 31 March 2020

Ardern’s online messages keep spirits up in New Zealand’s coronavirus lockdown

  • 39-year-old PM’s clear communication wins praise, even from fiercest critics more txt pls more

WELLINGTON: Hours after New Zealand imposed a nationwide lockdown to beat a coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern took to Facebook, livestreaming in a sweater from bed, to “check in” on citizens and tell them of the day’s events.

Ardern’s news conferences for more than 30 minutes a day, taking queries, streaming Facebook videos and posting pictures on Instagram, offer a contrast with some world leaders who have stumbled through confusing briefings about virus combat plans.
“I thought I would jump online quickly and check in with everyone ... as we all prepare to hunker down for a few weeks,” she said in one of her social media messages, seen and cheered by millions in lockdown. “This feels like the comfort of being tucked into bed at night by my mum,” said a viewer who responded to the post. “Thanks for checking in with us.”
New Zealand’s tally of 589 virus infections, and one death, is far smaller than other countries, such as giant neighbor Australia, which has 4,200 cases and 17 deaths.
Thursday’s lockdown is expected to have far-reaching effect on the export-oriented economy of the nation of five million.
But the 39-year-old prime minister’s clear communication has garnered praise, even from her fiercest critics.
“I think she communicates really clearly and really well,” John Key, a former prime minister and senior leader of the opposition National Party said on a radio show.

I think she (Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern) communicates really clearly and really well.

John Key, Former prime minister

While urging New Zealanders to keep to their own “bubble,” or stay home to save lives, Ardern has also talked about working from her office, spending time with family, and even a struggle with toilet training her daughter, who turns two in June.
Ardern took the helm of the Labour-led government in October 2017, as the youngest female prime minister at the time, and became only the second elected leader to give birth while in office, after Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto.
Her compassionate yet decisive actions after last year’s mass shooting at two Christchurch mosques drew global praise.
But facing domestic criticism for her government’s handling of housing shortages and the economy, Ardern is expected to face a tough re-election contest in September.
On Instagram on Sunday, she described events in her “bubble,” and was asked how toilet training was going with daughter Neve Te Aroha, who was three months old when she accompanied Ardern at her UN debut in 2018. “We are having zero success!” Ardern replied.


Snapchat curbs Trump posts for inciting ‘racial violence’

Updated 03 June 2020

Snapchat curbs Trump posts for inciting ‘racial violence’

  • “We are not currently promoting the president’s content on Snapchat’s Discover platform,” Snapchat said
  • The move came after Twitter took an unprecedented stand by hiding a Trump post it said promoted violence

SAN FRANCISCO: Snapchat on Wednesday stopped promoting posts by US President Donald Trump, saying they incite “racial violence.”
“We are not currently promoting the president’s content on Snapchat’s Discover platform,” Snapchat said in response to an AFP inquiry, referencing the youth-focused social network’s section for recommended content.
“We will not amplify voices who incite racial violence and injustice by giving them free promotion on Discover.”
The move came after Twitter took an unprecedented stand by hiding a Trump post it said promoted violence, thrusting rival Facebook into turmoil for refusing to sanction false or inflammatory posts by the US president.
The decision was made over the weekend, during which Snapchat parent Snap chief executive Evan Spiegel sent a lengthy memo to employees condemning what he saw as a legacy of racial injustice and violence in the US.
“Every minute we are silent in the face of evil and wrongdoing we are acting in support of evildoers,” Spiegel wrote as companies responded to the outrage over the police killing of a black man in Minnesota.
“I am heartbroken and enraged by the treatment of black people and people of color in America.”
Snapchat will not promote accounts in the US that are linked to people who incite racial violence on or off the messaging platform, according Spiegel.
The Discover feature at Snapchat is a curated platform on which the California-based company get to decide what it recommends to users.
Trump’s account remains on the platform, it will just no longer be recommended viewing, according to Snapchat.
“We may continue to allow divisive people to maintain an account on Snapchat, as long as the content that is published on Snapchat is consistent with our community guidelines, but we will not promote that account or content in any way,” Spiegel said in the memo.
“We will make it clear with our actions that there is no grey area when it comes to racism, violence, and injustice — and we will not promote it, nor those who support it, on our platform.”
Snapchat is particularly popular with young Internet users, claiming that about half of the US “generation Z” population tapping into news through its Discover feature.