The fake vaccine story you last saw on Facebook most likely originated from one of just a dozen very busy New Zealand accounts that exploded into action during the summer occupation of Parliament grounds.
Major new analysis of the social media activity around the protest has looked at millions of social media posts and hundreds of hours of videos and live streams.
The level of New Zealand interaction with misinformation online spiked on February 10, and again on March 2, the protest's final day.
It wasn't just the Wellington Convoy protest that teemed with falsehoods.
Researchers found each shift in New Zealand's Covid-19 response also coincided with waves of disinformation. For example, a bogus post claimed five children had collapsed at a vaccination centre as the rollout of the paediatric vaccinations began.
The bulk emanated from just 12 accounts.
These online surges were clearly initiated to undermine vaccination efforts. While more than 90 per cent of New Zealanders were putting themselves out to help their fellow communities, a select few were making malevolent mischief.
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It is disheartening indeed to realise these people live among us. Their behaviour has been dangerous in the extreme. Those who decided to "do their own research" were prey to this pernicious propaganda.
The harms caused radiate out through our society.
Part of the disinformation strategy is to engender distrust in "mainstream media". The answer to the oft-raised question from the disinformation cabal, why isn't this being reported, is simple: It isn't true.
During the pandemic, news organisations that ascribe to the guidelines and principles of the New Zealand Media Council have had to divert resources to investigate these false claims. This dirty disinformation dozen has wasted the media's time while seeking to undermine its credibility.
Worse, these keyboard cowboys issue threats against anyone who disagrees with their noxious narrative - politicians, journalists, academics, experts, and others. Their vindictive messages are often particularly vile when aimed at women.
The ultimate price is an unvaccinated person succumbing to the virus.
Please, think before sharing outrageous posts. Not only might it not be true, it may lead to serious harm.