It started with a reporter's questioning of the Prime Minister about miscommunicated Covid-19 testing. Then the social media trolls came out. Jason Walls details the onslaught.
Online pile-on mobs are coming for those who dare to question or challenge anyone who goes against their way of thinking.
They are relentless, personal, highly persistent and, perhaps most worryingly, they are organised.
They attack their enemies in every forum they can, using all manner of abuse and threats.
They pile on and they don't stop – I found that out the hard way this week.
On Sunday afternoon, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern revealed there had been a miscommunication and 700,000 people in South and West Auckland were wrongly told to get a Covid-19 test.
I was at Ardern's press conference and asked some follow-up questions, including if she should apologise.
I also wrote a comment piece, arguing that New Zealanders should be angry the error was left unchecked for so long.
Then came the pile-on.
It started on Twitter. The overwhelming theme was one of outrage that I could ever ask the Prime Minister this type of question.
I was called a "pathetic and immature little cretin," who "harangued" and "harassed" Ardern.
Abusive messages came through my personal Instagram account; one person called me a "F**ckward" [sic].
Then, Facebook messages from people I have never met – one telling me to run deep into the ocean.
"I can see why you are called the new Karen," another said.
There were Reddit threads and the Facebook pages and even a video calling me a "c**kwomble".
It was relentless.
But the emails were the worst – I could turn off social media, but I need to access my inbox for my job.
"Jason you are crap. Go directly to Melbourne," one said.
"Why are you such a self righteous prick?" said another, followed a few minutes later by someone calling me a "subhuman moron".
There were 51 emails in total – not all this offensive but all complaining.
One, which contained a threat, was even referred to the police by the Herald.
It was getting hard to ignore. I've had hate mail before, but this was on a whole new level.
Then I discovered why.
Facebook automatically tagged me in a photo where someone had taken a screenshot of my photo byline, with my email address, for people to "express their feelings to one of the loudest squawking seagulls".
I learned that the same thing was happening in various groups and forms – people were being encouraged to spam me with critical and, at times, abusive messages.
The pile-on was working; it was hard to focus under such a barrage of abuse.
In subsequent press conferences, I have found myself second-guessing questions I wanted to ask.
Not because I don't think they're good questions, but because I know what the consequences are of upsetting the pile-on mob.
I can take the heat – but what if they go after my family? My partner? Can I really justify letting them suffer the abuse I received?
This is what the mob wants – to silence anyone who seeks to question those who are "on their team".
The bad news is that this sort of behaviour is likely to get worse as we move into the hyper-partisan election campaign where everything is live-streamed.
If you're a reporter, or someone who challenges the pile-on group-think, it's time to strap in – it's going to be a bumpy ride.