Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick has been the subject of vitriolic online abuse, but has looked at those behind it and found that they appear to lead regular lives.

"Shoot the stupid bitch", "time to get rid of that chloe bitch--just a waste of air", and "piss off woman" were just some of the comments that Swarbrick highlighted in a recent Facebook post.

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"I seem to have accumulated some new fans on Facebook, and clicking through to their pages I've found they all otherwise seem quite objectively decent people with families and things they care about," Swarbrick wrote to accompany a screenshot of the comments.


"I've never met any of them, which can only lead me to assume they've developed some pretty strong feelings based on some reckons that I've never had the opportunity to address."

She said it was fascinating for people to comment on her Facebook profile, as it was a forum where the commenter also had public information about their lives on the online platform.

Advisers had recommended to her not to "feed the trolls".

"But when I look at these people's accounts, and I see their regular lives, I can't help but wonder. In all seriousness, what's up?

"Throwing shade and insults on the interweb may satisfy you for a sec from the comfort of your keyboard, but if you're keen to wrangle with the anger and hatred stewing, I'm always keen to meaningfully address your concerns. You may just find it a more long-term buzz."

She said that such comments are often aimed at politicians - and often much worse.

"It's all par for course, unfortunately. Anybody in politics is expected to take it on the chin, and we largely do, but I don't think it's helpful in trying to curate a more collaborative, constructive, inclusive and accessible political landscape.

"I also want to acknowledge that while I get some gross stuff, the women of colour I work with are subject to far more. I'm privileged to have the support, platform and environment I do to turn this kind of stuff on its head publicly."


Swarbrick's caucus colleague Golriz Ghahraman, a refugee from Iran, has said that female staff who monitor her emails and social media have been moved into different roles because online sexist abuse has become so relentless and toxic.

I seem to have accumulated some new fans on Facebook, and clicking through to their pages I’ve found they all otherwise...

Posted by Chlöe Swarbrick on Saturday, 23 November 2019

Ghahraman told the Herald in May that racism and misogyny often came hand-in-hand, and had been amplified by the international attention New Zealand received after the March 15 terror attack.

As a result, male staff members had taken over roles which had been occupied by women in her parliamentary office.

"The men were in shock - because it was something they had never had to consume," she said. "It is gendered and it is race-based abuse, and it is constant."

Swarbrick told the Herald that police have not been in contact about the death threat.

"Comments and messages like this are unfortunately all too common in this job, but all the worse for my colleagues who are women of colour.

"While social media has democratised information and made politics more accessible, its high metabolic rate, echo chambers and relative anonymity can lead to outrage and escalation that real-life interaction - seeing the human being you're speaking to, a second to breathe and reflect - could allow us to more meaningfully address."

Several recent studies show that women are disproportionately affected by social media abuse and harassment in this country.

An Amnesty International paper found a third of New Zealand women said they had been abused or harassed online, and a fifth of them had been abused on social media.

That was more than any of the eight first-world countries surveyed except one - the United States.