Labour Party candidates have been urged to clean up their social media profiles by removing potentially embarrassing pictures or comments about the party.

The directive by Labour's general secretary Andrew Kirton was accidentally sent by text message to a Newstalk ZB reporter.

It asks Labour candidates to check for any old social media posts which could "embarrass you or the Party" - even if they were taken before the person joined Labour.

Warning that Labour's opponents were searching through candidates' pages, Kirton said: "Your social media accounts should present you as a professional and in touch person.

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"Images of you drinking, making inappropriate gestures etc etc should be deleted."

It also says any criticisms of Labour policy, current or former leaders "will come back to haunt you and us".

Kirton told the Herald the advice was normal practice and was "part of running a disciplined campaign that focuses on issues New Zealanders care about".

He added: "As for my ability to use a smartphone, I will seek further training and advice from my two daughters."