PM’s of­fice tack­les fake news site us­ing her im­age to pro­mote Bit­coin

The Press - - National News - Henry Cooke

Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern’s of­fice has re­ported a se­ries of Face­book ads us­ing her im­age to sell cryp­tocur­rency as fake news.

The ads were tar­geted specif­i­cally at Ki­wis and pointed read­ers to a web­site dressed up to look like CNN, with a fake news story about the New Zealand Trea­sury sup­pos­edly in­vest­ing half of its wealth in a Bit­coin startup.

Once Stuff brought the ads to the at­ten­tion of the Gov­ern­ment, the prime min­is­ter’s of­fice moved to re­port them to Face­book, which led to them be­ing taken down.

Each ad was tar­geted at a dif­fer­ent age group of New Zealan­ders, with cap­tions like ‘‘Ev­ery Kiwi age be­tween 30 and 45 must NOT miss this’’ and a pic­ture of Ardern with money or United States Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

A spokes­woman for the prime min­is­ter’s of­fice said these ads came up more and more and the of­fice was not able to con­stantly mon­i­tor them.

‘‘We aren’t able to man­u­ally or dig­i­tally mon­i­tor the in­creas­ing vol­ume of fake news that fraud­u­lently uses images of the prime min­is­ter,’’ the spokes­woman said.

‘‘When we are ad­vised of or dis­cover ex­am­ples of fake news that fraud­u­lently use images of the prime min­is­ter, we im­me­di­ately in­form Face­book, who are usu­ally pretty good at tak­ing them down.

‘‘Un­for­tu­nately, this seems to be hap­pen­ing more reg­u­larly and high­lights why so­cial me­dia plat­forms like Face­book need to re­main vig­i­lant about shut­ting down the fake news that shows up on their sites.’’

Ardern is not the first Kiwi politi­cian to fea­ture in a fake news ad try­ing to sell Bit­coin.

For­mer prime min­is­ter John Key fea­tured in ads on Face­book and Twit­ter in late 2017.

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