The Labour Party will voluntarily sign up to new Facebook rules which aim to crack down on fake news by letting users see who is behind paid online ads and who is being targeted.

The measures will help avoid "anonymous fake news style ads" and will also mean Facebook users will be able to see how much Labour is spending on ads, as well as who they are targeting.

Speaking at the Labour Party's annual retreat in Martinborough this afternoon, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she didn't want New Zealand to fall into the trap of the "negative fake news style campaigns" that she said have taken place overseas in recent years.

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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern promises Labour will run a 'positive, factual, robust' election campaign


She did not, however, outline which countries she was talking about.

Ardern would not say if she was calling on National to sign up to the rules.

"Ultimately, this is about us and about the campaign that we, as the Labour Party, want to run."

National leader Simon Bridges said his party was considering adopting the rules but was adamant that National was not a perpetrator of any fake news.

In fact, he said Ardern should "frankly look in the mirror" when it comes to fake news as he said that in her government's year of delivery, it has failed to deliver.

Ardern's announcement today was part of her re-commitment to a "relentlessly positive" election campaign this year.

This is the same phrase she used to describe her approach to the 2017 election.

"New Zealanders deserve a positive election," Ardern said.


But she would not rule out Labour running any negative ads about Bridges or the National Party.

"We will run a positive campaign, but that will not stop us from pointing out if we see inaccuracies, if we see misinformation or if we do see things we do need to push back on.

This morning, she told media that Labour wanted a "positive, factual and robust campaign".

Facebook recently introduced the rules in an attempt to crack down on fake news and political interference ahead of general elections.

They mean pages and advertisers will need to be "authorised" in order to run ads about social issues, elections or politics in a given country.

These rules are already compulsory in the US, the UK, Brazil, India and Canada.


New Zealand, however, is only opt-in at this stage.

Photo / File
Photo / File

The Green Party have already signed up; National has said the party was still considering it.

Ardern said these rules were important for New Zealand's democracy.

"If an ad appears in your Facebook feed you should know who it's from and why you were targeted.

"By being transparent about who is behind ads there is likely to be a flow-on effect of parties ensuring they are accurate too."

But, she said, this does not mean Labour won't contest the views of other parties or challenge any claims it perceives to be false.


"Elections are a contest of ideas for the future. But we'll do that in a way that fits with the New Zealand style of campaigning and values."

As it did in 2017, Labour has also committed to having all its major election policy costing independently verified so "voters can be sure of what they are voting for".

This will be done by an independent private company. In 2017, Labour hired economic consultancy firm BERL to look through its numbers.

"It's a good thing and we are happy to show leadership on this," Ardern said.

Meanwhile, the Government will continue to work towards establishing a Crown-run independent policy costing unit before the 2023 election.