Facebook shuts New Zealand party’s page ahead of election

Facebook said it would enforce its policies on coronavirus misinformation “regardless of anyone’s political position or party affiliation.” (File/AFP)
Updated 15 October 2020

Facebook shuts New Zealand party’s page ahead of election

  • Facebook’s action against a registered political party in the midst of an election campaign is unprecedented in New Zealand
  • The company recently banned a politician from India’s ruling Hindu nationalist BJP for hate speech

WELLINGTON: 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.

Te Kahika, a former blues musician, is standing for parliament after his social media posts claiming Covid-19 is fake and part of a conspiracy to enslave people became wildly popular in New Zealand.
Between late June and early October, the Advance NZ Facebook page generated more than 5.3 million views, according to data from social media tracker CrowdTangle.
They are stunning figures for a new political entrant in a nation of just five million people.
Advance NZ’s page views exceed the 2.8 million for New Zealand’s main opposition National Party and 5.2 million for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s Labour Party over the same period.
Advance NZ’s Facebook posts have also generated far more activity than those of the two mainstream parties.
Advance NZ’s posts have been shared 148,000 times, compared with fewer than 110,000 combined for the mainstream parties, according to the CrowdTangle data.
AFP fact-checkers have debunked two of his party’s most popular claims: that the government was authorizing the military to enter private residences and planning forced vaccinations.
The latter claim was made in a campaign video that selectively edited statements from lawmakers, resulting in parliament’s privileges committee condemning “blatant doctoring” of footage and demanding it be taken down.
On Thursday, New Zealand’s Advertising Standards Authority order the party to withdraw fliers making similar claims, calling them “misleading and irresponsible.”
Te Kahika accused Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who is expected to win Saturday’s election due largely to her government’s success containing coronavirus, of being behind Facebook’s decision to remove the page.
“This is not North Korea, this is not China, but the way this government’s behaving you’d think it is,” he said.
Te Kahika’s supporters expressed outrage online.
“They did this to Trump, you’re both a threat to the establishment,” commented one, while another said “the more they fight you, the more credible they make you.”


Publicis Groupe veteran Kamal Dimachkie leaves as new successor is named

Updated 20 October 2020

Publicis Groupe veteran Kamal Dimachkie leaves as new successor is named

  • Dimachkie’s career spans three decades of leadership and accomplishment in international and regional markets
  • Shoueiry founded the agency’s Social Content Lab and played a key role in cultivating digital design thinking across the region

RIYADH: Publicis Groupe MEA today announced the departure of Kamal Dimachkie, chief operating officer, Publicis Communications, UAE and Lower Gulf. Dimachkie is a senior executive who joined Leo Burnett in February 1985. The company has appointed Samer Shoueiry to assume the role in conjunction with his current responsibilities as chief digital officer, Publicis Communications, Middle East from Dec. 1. Dimachkie’s decision to leave comes after 33 years with the company. He will leave his current position on Dec. 31 and continue to act in a consultative capacity until June 2021 in order to ensure a smooth transition.

Dimachkie’s career spans three decades of leadership and accomplishment in international and regional markets including the US, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and the UAE.

Raja Trad, executive chairman at Publicis Groupe MEA said: “I respect Kamal’s decision. He has been a friend and a colleague for over three decades, and not just I but the entire Publicis Groupe family will miss him. His tenure at the Groupe has been characterized by a clear commitment to values that are central to our philosophy. Kamal’s adept leadership propelled the agency to new heights — we won more than 250 accolades and added numerous international and local clients to our roster. I want to thank him for his immeasurable contribution to the Groupe and wish him all the best for his professional future.”

Dimachkie added: “Leo Burnett and Publicis Groupe have been my life for the past 33 years, and I am proud to have been a part of a glorious journey during which I have had the opportunity to serve the company in different roles in six countries, to have contributed to numerous clients and raised the bar internally and within the industry. Part of this has been the joy of working with a wonderful team and leadership, whom I have partnered with, learnt from and shall forever call my friends and brothers in arms. I am grateful to have lived the glory days of advertising with one of the best agencies in the world and to have worked with some of the most inspiring and creative people. I look forward to working with Samer on the upcoming transition and wish him success in his new role.”

Shoueiry, who will take on Dimachkie’s role, has over 21 years of experience across business, design and innovation. He has consistently delivered a robust performance in Publicis’ Experience Design and Experience Strategy, founded the agency’s Social Content Lab and played a key role in cultivating digital design thinking across the region.

Commenting on his appointment, Trad said: “Samer has a record of leadership and value creation, deep experience in generating groundbreaking brand experiences, as well as a focus on strategic design, innovation excellence and a strong technological footing. I look forward to continuing to work closely with him to drive our digital transformation in the region and support the spread of innovation through investments in our people, technology, platforms and tools. Together, we will ensure that we continue to move our business forward in the Connected Age through a data-led, digital-first approach.”

Shoueiry further added: “Kamal has built a strong foundation for future growth, including strengthening our team and expanding our scope of work. The current climate has accelerated digital transformation globally, and we are looking at a future where online and offline coexist to augment consumer experience in an interconnected brand universe. E-commerce is a necessity, digital equities are your flagship stores, search and social your new outdoor. With this new beginning, I will focus on further strengthening our creative strategy-to-results development to offer the best consumer-centric experiences and build brand value.”